Synthetic fields facts & research – Answers to common questions

Over the next week on this page I will be compiling to the best of my abilities answers to many common questions we have received from the public regarding the Quarry Park turf field proposal. Recently, I voted against earmarking 1.5 Million Dollars in surplus money (total cost of line item 3.3M) to fund a proposal for turf fields as part of the 2015 budget proposal. At this time I am not convinced that the synthetic field aspect of the concept plan is the best way to address township field use issues. As an alternative I have proposed informally that we should instead concentrate on less expensive alternatives to address current field use issues. For example, more lights on existing grass fields and a natural grass field expansion plan.

Volumes of information are available on the internet regarding this topic. However, I am limiting links and information on this page to:
1. Academic research or pieces that directly cite academic research. (Focus on Penn State Materials since this was the program who presented in front of the township)

2. Research through the Township Manager
a. In most cases this is the opinion of our hired consultant

3. Utilize current information. The so called 3rd generation of turf fields have made major advances in safety. It’s important to consider only the latest information available.

4. The costs for Synthetic fields include *concept plan proposed vs. Township natural Grass fields with native soils. The costs for fields are taken out of overall budget proposal. I support both lights and upgrades to existing facilities including additional parking using developer money. I do not support synthetic fields.
*amenities have been removed. This is just comparison of playing surfaces.

Much of the information you find during cursory web searches is often produced by companies trying to sell the products. Therefore it takes a little effort to find un-biased information.

*Concept plan overview by Lower Macungie’s paid consultant. D’huy engineering. The township incurred 4,000.00 cost  to draft concept plan

Was the option to build additional grass fields on township property considered by staff as a less expensive alternative to synthetic?

  • “No” – Twp. Manager


What is the specific brand proposed:

  • This is typically part of the design process during which the surface is chosen by the Township. Commonly several different manufacturers and models will be reviewed for both quality and cost.” – Twp. Manager

Proposed infill:

  • Infill for turf fields is most commonly crumb rubber mixed with silica.  There are alternatives made from cork and other products but they have not been on the market for very long, have very few US installations, and have been found in some cases to have a lower level of performance.  Colors and mixes vary between manufacturers.  Field Turf offers an infill product made from ground up sneakers that comes at a premium cost.  There is also a coconut husk product recently installed in Maryland (  There isn’t much performance data available yet on these alternative products.  Both come at a premium cost and could easily be bid as alternates on your project.” – Twp. Manager

Rendering: See Below

Lifecycle Costs & Benefits
Q- Initial costs to install Synthetic Field vs. Natural Grass (according to Penn State research)

  • Natural Grass with native soil 2.25-5.25 per square ft. (Will get actual cost for LMT to install a new grass field cost/square ft.)

Q- Q- Initial costs to install Synthetic Field vs. Natural Grass (according to concept plan and LMT public works)

  • Synthetic: 850,000 for two fields according to proposal. Includes lining for multiple sports.
  • Natural Grass: Cost to install one natural grass field is 10,000 dollars according to LMT public works department.

Q – Annual Maintenance Costs (according to sports turf managers association)

  • Synthetic Infill 6,000 per year in materials and 375 labor hours per year.  (need proposal specific information) *sports managers association
  • Natural Grass – According to LMT public works The yearly costs to maintain a typical field (180’ x 360’ =64,800 sq. ft.) would be around. $ 3,275.00 depending on the number of *cuts required.” This is based on yearly average of 35 cuts

Q- Replacement costs in 10-15 years for Synthetic Field  (10-15 years is the stated timeframe in the concept plan presentation – Link above)

  • Replacement costs for two fields is 800,000-900,000 in today’s dollars. (Twp. Manager) Add 3% inflation = 1,142,328.92 (amount * (1 + inflation rate)^number years)

Q- Revenue projections over 10 year lifespan

  • According to township manager this is a board decision and has not been taken into account yet. “   This will be a policy established by the Board of Commissioners.” – Twp. Manager

Q-Will final draft of field use agreement apply to Quarry same as any other township field?

  • Currently LMYA gets usage of Community center gym rent free. Will this same policy apply to Quarry field? – Draft in progress

Health/Injury issues Grass vs. Turf
Q- Long Term Health Risks
coming soon

Q- Does synthetic field increase injury risks vs. grass?

  • Answer – Concern risk is Low with correct footware but Medium to High with incorrect footware.

Bullet Points: (source Pennstate center for sports surface research) 

  • Most critical is right shoe for the surface. The correct shoe on synthetic turf dramatically reduces risk. Without the right foot ware injuries on turf fields increase dramatically.
  • Compared to grass fields not maintained to optimal conditions or very dry, synthetic fields can actually reduce risk of serious injuries although incidents of minor injuries (mainly abrasions) increase.

Q- Does synthetic field increase risk of staph infections? Answer – Concern risk is Low.

Bullet Points: (source Pennstate center for sports surface research)

  • The sun acts as disinfectant.

Surface and Air Temperature issues related to Synthetic Turf.

Q – What are the health issues related to surface heat? Answer – Concern risk is High.

Bullet Points: (source Pennstate center for sports surface research)

  • Children are less able to adapt to changes in Temperature – Higher potential for heat related injury.
  • In central Pennsylvania surface temperatures have been measured up to 175 degrees on synthetic fields measured on days when the surrounding air temperature is 79 degrees.
  • Generally synthetic turf registers 35 to 55 degrees hotter than natural grass.
  • Techniques to reduce surface temperature on hot days add labor and cost considerations.



Unknowns/future policy decisions to be made by the board if project moves forward:

What is the best and worse case scenarios for completion of the Sauerkraut punch through? (Completion of this planned project will allow for access to quarry park from a signalized intersection.)

  • Township engineer has been working with all parties methodically through each step and would not want to guess on a completion date. – Twp. Manager


What is the projected revenue stream that will be used to fund replacement costs? Are user fees being considered?

  • This will be a policy established by the Board of Commissioners. – Twp. Manager

Will LMYA be able to utilize the fields for free similar to the arrangement for the community center?

  • This will be a policy established by the Board of Commissioners. –  Twp. Manager