LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The city will spend $3.3 million to replace artificial turf at several athletic fields over the next year, starting with two fields at Kellogg Zaher Sports Complex at Washington Avenue and Buffalo Drive.

It’s part of a longer-term project to replace fields that are showing their age. The fields that will be done first are:

  • Fields 6 and 7 at Kellog Zaher
  • Fields 1 and 2 at Ed Fountain Park on Decatur Boulevard at Vegas Drive
  • Stupak Park, a tiny park at 300 W. Boston Ave. that doesn’t have any grass at all.

A contract awarded Wednesday to Sprinturf LLC drew protests but the City Council approved the bid, which came in well under the $4 million expected cost. The city expects to spend millions more over the coming years, and the use of artificial turf keeps expanding.

Councilwoman Michele Fiore was the only vote against approval, saying she wasn’t comfortable approving the bid without knowing more about complaints about Sprinturf’s bid. A competitor challenged Sprinturf’s licensing to qualify for the project, but city officials were assured the bid was in order. Another speaker questioned whether Sprinturf was using local labor.

Urgent need, mayor says

“We have got to get these done and done soon,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said. She described the condition of some fields as “abysmal.”

“This issue on our turf,” Goodman said. “I’ve had so many calls in the mayor’s office over these past two years about, ‘We need replacement, my son fell.’ And you look at the exposure of children that can get hurt if we don’t do it.”

Sprinturf has replaced 19 fields in Las Vegas since 2014, city officials said.

Fiore also asked if there is anything that could be done to reduce heat on the fields.

“That fake grass gets really, really hot when you put your foot on it — barefoot. Is there a new … like, is there something that’s a bit cooler material?” she asked.

A cooler alternative

Steve Ford, director of parks and recreation, said the city has been involved in a test of a new “infill” product at Baker Park, on St. Louis Avenue just west of Maryland Parkway. In most existing fields, crumbled rubber is used to help make the surface of athletic fields softer and more like natural grass fields.

The new product uses an alternative called “Eco-therm” that seems to be cooler than the crumb rubber used in most fields, according to city officials. Eco-therm requires more maintenance than crumb rubber turf, and the city is still evaluating the product.

The entry to fields at Baker Park on St. Louis Avenue just west of Maryland Parkway. (Greg Haas / 8NewsNow)

“Temperature tests in the field with IR thermometers would seem to show that the fields are cooler,” according to spokesman Jace Radke. “Anecdotally, user groups on these fields have reported that they seem cooler to practice and play on.”

It’s more expensive, too, and not currently in the city’s plans. For now, they’re seeing how it does at Baker Park.

“We are only three years into an assumed 8-10 year lifecycle on these two fields, so we won’t be able to make a complete determination as to the cost/benefit until they are nearing the time for replacement,” Radke said.