March 2015

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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32 SportsTurf | March 2015 W e've all heard the story: a warning track on a baseball field is designed to give the players two to three steps "notice" at full stride, before crashing into the wall. Right? Well, par- tially right anyway, in my opinion. There are other good reasons that warn- ing tracks exits. Aesthetically, a red warning track can be a stunning contrast to a lush field of green grass. Throw in a nice mowing pattern and a baseball field is as much a work of art as a playing sur- face and the track is an important part of the canvas. The track also serves as a roadway for tractors, utility vehicles, mowers and other equipment to keep them off the grass. I have seen and been part of 5K and 10k races that finish on a MLB warning track. I can imagine the horrified look on a groundskeeper's face if 3,000 runners were hitting the finish line on their grass infield. Occasionally, cars, floats, fire trucks or horses use the track to deliver team mas- cots and celebrities to the field for events and ceremonies. So, while player safety may have been the invention of the warn- ing track, there are many other reasons to understand and care for them. Professional helP recommended Whether starting from scratch on a new field construction or renovating an existing field I recommend hiring a design professional. There are numerous highly qualified landscape architect/civil engineers that specialize in sports field specifications and design. A good designer will take into account the local weather conditions, field use, maintenance capabili- ties, budget and the overall performance expectation of the owner. A good warning track design will drain water. This can be done several ways. A material that is designed to drain through may be built over a free draining stone base with drainage pipes underneath to carry water away, while a tighter, more compactable material may need to slope one direction or another and sheet the water away to a trench drain. If budget is a Warning tracks: material selection, construction and maintenance FACILITY & OPERATIONS ■ By Paul Schinner

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