Silverdale goes soft

When soccer and football teams come to Silverdale Stadium, they won’t have the turf to worry about anymore.

According to district officials, the summer-long project to replace the long-despised artificial surface and put down a new rubberized track is expected to wrap up by Wednesday, only two days behind schedule but still well before the start of the fall sports season.

The biggest decision remaining for the district’s turf committee is to determine what kind of fill they want to put on the AstroPlay surface.

The choices were to use either cryogenic rubber (which is old tires frozen then shattered into fine chunks) or ambient rubber (granulated at room temperature) and then if they want to add sand to the mix.

To see what the users want, the district has brought in several teams to try out different blends placed down in small sections.

On Tuesday morning it was the Central Kitsap High football team’s turn to see if they preferred a 100 percent rubber, an 80/20 percent blend of rubber and sand or a 60/40 blend of rubber and sand. The fill is layered with rubber, then sand and then rubber on top.

“It will get more compacted over the years, but it’ll give them a good idea of what it’s going to be like to play on,” said Richard Best, district director of construction, facilities and maintenance.

After giving the turf surfaces a workout of offense and defense moves, the players all preferred the 80/20 blend.

“This is a lot better than what we’ve had,” said CK football player Ricky Bearbower, who like nearly everyone who played on the old surface has scars from the experience.

Project consultant David Hogan said the AstroPlay is much more forgiving on exposed skin and on impacts. The old turf, while rock-hard on the surface, was fairly absorbent thanks to its underlying rubber pad.

The new turf is softer yet (and still includes the under pad which saved the district $350,000 on the project), which Best said met the district’s requirements that it have “improved playability and safety.”

“I like it,” said CK football coach and turf committee member Mark Keel. “I’ll have to put in a whole bunch of new plays (such as cuts and reverses) that we couldn’t do on the old turf,” which prevented quick turns.

AstroPlay also is used NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Oklahoma State University, and a number of high schools on the east side of Lake Washington, including Issaquah, Bellevue and Newport. The surface also is being installed at Gig Harbor’s stadium and Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma.

Additional improvements at Silverdale Stadium included new lights which have been redirected for improved visibility on the field, speakers on the visitors’ side, walkway lighting and drainage. The total cost of the project is $639, 903.

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