Area athletes have something to look forward to by summer's end -- four Rumsey Park playing fields will be covered, where appropriate, in all-weather, artificial turf.
This isn't just any fake grass, the fields will be surfaced with a professional grade synthetic product created by Field Turf.
"The north soccer field will get the turf first because of a warranty issue," said Payson Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind.
Field Turf installed artificial surface on the north field in 1997. It was the company's first United States installation and the fill product used then was sandier than the current fill product that is partially made of recycled Nike sneakers.
"Over the years, the sand has rubbed off a lot of the grass fibers," Schwind said. "When we were cleaning the field we were losing a lot of turf."
Arizona State University's Sun Devils conducted two football practices on the south Rumsey field when monsoon rains forced them off the live grass of their field at Camp Tontozona east of Payson last summer.
The turf there, installed in 2002, used the sneaker fill.
"Field Turf has proven itself," Schwind said. "The seams are hidden and for our application that is the best way to go."
Touted by the manufacturer as "an idea that changed an entire industry," synthetic turf should look, play and feel like grass, not green plastic carpet.
The infill is Field Turf's patented mixture of smooth, rounded silica sand, rubber granules and "Nike Grind."
The infill combined with the tall pile fabric (grass) and the distance between the rows of fibers are the elements that make the surface uncompactable, which the manufacturer said reduces player injury.
The soccer field at Rumsey has a one-percent grade at the center allowing water to run off while the infill stays intact.
Town Council member Tim Fruth said he is happy with the council's affirmative vote to buy the turf and the parks department choice of the Field Turf product.
The Town purchased 129,644 square feet at a cost of $517,855.
Fruth saw the difference in seams between the products of the two turf bidders.
"If seams rip and come loose that would lead to player injuries and be extremely costly to repair," Fruth said. He speaks from experience on athletic fields. He is the former Maverick athletic director for Rim Country Middle School and is the current assistant principal at Payson High School, as well as a Town Council member.
"I am not a seamstress, but Field Turf was the superior product," Fruth said.
The product is insured unconditionally for eight years.
While field preparation continues, the special turf is being delivered June 9. Schwind estimated seven to eight days per field for installation after the prep work is complete.
The two outfields will get the turf after Rumsey north and while that turf is being laid Rumsey III will be prepared for the final turf installation.