About Synthetic Turf Fields
Synthetic turf is a non-abrasive surface that plays like natural grass. It is very durable and can withstand virtually unlimited play unlike natural turf. The shape, texture, feel and spacing of the synthetic grass fibers are all designed to resemble real grass. There are many benefits of synthetic turf fields compared to traditional playing surfaces including:
The Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources (PRCR) is closely following the issue regarding lead found in older artificial turf fields made from nylon and installed in New Jersey by Southwest Recreational Industries (SRI).
Arlington's seven outdoor and one indoor synthetic turf fields are considerably newer than the artificial turf fields that have been the subject of the recent scrutiny and were installed in the 1990's. All of the County's outdoor fields and the indoor field were installed in 2005 or later and are made of a newer generation of polyethylene synthetics. Manufacturer's statements confirm that these fields contain only trace amounts of any heavy metals, well below international environmental standards.
The County will continue to monitor this issue and will take appropriate action based on CPSC recommendations. Arlington County's objective is to ensure that County fields are safe and provide an inviting place for the community to play.
Five years ago, like many urban and suburban areas, the use of Arlington 's rectangular grass fields far exceeded the number of games recommended for maintaining good field conditions. Arlington was on a continual cycle: pull a field out of use for a season or two to install new sod, provide substantial field maintenance in aerating, fertilizing, reseeding, and installing winter turf covers, then watch the grass die from overuse, and start the whole process again a few years later.
Synthetic Turf Fields
The County, in collaboration with Arlington Public Schools, installed the first synthetic turf field at Gunston Middle School in 2002 with strong support from County leaders and the local soccer community. Wakefield High School and Virginia Highlands were converted to synthetic turf in 2004, Barcroft Park and Washington-Lee High School were added in 2005, and Greenbrier Park (used by Yorktown High School) received synthetic turf in 2007. Thomas Jefferson's lower field was turfed in 2010 and Gunston's field was re-turfed in 2011. Next on the list is to turn Rocky Run's stone dust field into a turf field. Three lighted synthetic turf fields are located at Long Bridge Park which opened in November 2011.
Arlington now has one of largest concentrations of synthetic turf fields in the nation. The new fields have been extremely popular with the County's soccer players, from U11 recreational players to elite travel teams to adult leagues and pick-up players.
Arlington County has seen tremendous value in its synthetic turf fields and is committed to adding to its inventory over the coming years. The County Board has included in the Capital Improvement Plan the conversion of at least one additional field to synthetic turf every two years. View the Adopted Public Spaces Master Plan for more information about the County's plans for future synthetic turf fields.
The initial investment for the installation of a full-size synthetic turf field is expensive – about $700,000, compared to $70,000 - $125,000 for a high quality natural grass field. However, spread over a ten year period, the cost of ownership of a synthetic turf field is less than twice that of a natural grass field. Over the same ten year period, a synthetic turf field can support as much as five times the amount of play as natural grass, without degradation of the field.
Want to Play on Synthetic Turf?
Search for a location suited to your interest by viewing a list of our rectangle fields and diamond fields and please be sure to adhere to the associated Field Use Regulations so that we can maintain the quality of our fields.
For information about Arlington's synthetic turf fields, installation, and costs, please contact Robin Leonard, Athletic Facilities Unit Supervisor (703-228-1874).