The potential for serious injury during a tackle football game is high enough for players on a sure-footed field. Add the hazard of an unsure playing surface and conditions become downright treacherous.
It’s no wonder then that the Warriors Football Club has expressed serious concern about the deteriorated state of the football field surface, at Pelham Bay Park, where it holds its weekly contests.
The Warriors maintain that the field, which is made of FieldTurf, a recent innovation in sports playing surfaces which is an eco-friendly mixture of sand and recycled rubber tires that more closely imitates natural grass in texture and shock absorption, while being less susceptible to wet weather.
Though FieldTurf has shown itself to be a safer alternative to Astroturf, for facilities that want to spend less time and effort on turf management, without proper maintenance it can warp developing slopes, unsafe undulations, and weak spots. Negligence in sustaining and protecting the field by the Department of Parks is precisely what the Warriors are charging.
The field surface is in an egregiously unkempt and downright dangerous condition. Weak spots covered the field revealing the “gravelly”, slippery secondary layer of recycled rubber and virtually every five-yard white line marker on the hundred yard field was raised inches above the ground, presenting a trip hazard.
“The field needs to be re-stretched, so its taut and the whole top layer need to be flattened” said Jay Demers, the Warriors director.
Demers added, “God forbid one of my kids gets his foot stuck in a raised spot, and turns awkwardly. These are the sort of things that can lead to crippling injuries.”
What is most frustrating about the gradual destruction of the field is that it could so easily have been avoided with proper, routine maintenance by the Department of Parks staff. In the equipment shack is housed barrels of replacement rubber pellets that should have been used to fix the raised and weak spots on the field.
While the Department of Parks has placed a highly visible sign prohibiting certain practices for the field/track facility at its entrance, namely the use of metal cleats and the use of heavy, metal garbage cans as goal posts by pickup soccer players, these rules are not being enforced.
The majority of those visitors to the park, playing impromptu soccer matches, wear metal cleats, flagrantly tearing up the turf. As of the weekend of September 13, the metal garbage cans were chained to the bleachers, making it impossible for them to be used as goal posts.
Parks said about the lack of oversight, “We enforce the rules and regulations and encourage park goers who notice any issues or problems in Pelham Bay Park to call the Administrator’s Office at (718) 430-1890” said representative Jessyln Moser
In reference to immediate repairs Moser said, “The field is under warranty and we are working with the manufacturer to have the seams along the stripes re-sealed as soon as possible.”
Regarding the unutilized repair materials Moser explained, “The extra rubber pellet strips stored in the shed are indeed available for field repairs, and we hope to have the field repaired by the manufacturer’s construction contractor in the upcoming weeks.”
Until those repairs are done the field remains a threat to everyone who competes on it.