UT, AstroTurf® partner up

Former Vols star Berry will support research facility

Eric Berry

Eric Berry

A partnership between the University of Tennessee and AstroTurf® to build a $1.5 million research center dedicated to athletic field safety has the support of a familiar face in former Vol Eric Berry.

Berry, a UT football standout and NFL safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, will be on hand Friday for the groundbreaking of The Center for Safer Athletic Fields.

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. at the UT Institute of Agriculture's East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at 3209 Alcoa Highway.

UT and AstroTurf® announced creation of the multiyear research initiative last July to test natural and synthetic turf fields with the goal of improving athletic performance and reducing injuries.

"This is to my knowledge the most significant partnership that has generated funding for the research of natural and artificial grass surfaces with the intent to make athletes play better, which means safer," said John Sorochan, associate professor and turfgrass specialist with the Department of Plant Sciences in the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

The outdoor research facility will comprise 60 small-scale athletic research fields constructed from a variety of playing surfaces. UT turfgrass scientists will compare the safety and performance of synthetic playing surfaces to natural grass surfaces.

Field qualities will range from professional-level sports to those used by schools, public parks and recreation fields.

Andy Belles of AstroTurf® said Berry reached out to the Dalton, Ga.-based company after learning about the partnership.

"He expressed a desire to help younger kids coming up to play on better, safer surfaces," Belles said.

Earlier this year, Berry was reported saying that he was working with AstroTurf® to rebuild a youth sports field in his hometown in Georgia through his foundation.

Belles said the center would benefit from Berry's input as an athlete.

Initial research will start as soon as fall 2010, and the Center will be fully operational by 2011.

Business writer Carly Harrington may be reached at 865-342-6317.

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Comments » 23

VolunteerLifer writes:

Haven't we been down this road once before with a synthetic football field that produced alot of injuries? It's like Dick Allen of the Phillies said back in the day - "If a horse can't eat it, I don't want to play on it."

voloffaith writes:

Berry good....berry berry good. Funny we used to have that funky stuff to play on then tore it up and put down the real thing so this is a little confusing as to the future findings effect on our playing surfaces.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Glad to see this! Hopefully this Vol favorite of so many will always be linked to UT like another NFLer...

BigHouse_of_IceGulp writes:

Hopefully positive results for all. Will never forget what happened to Chuck Webb back in '90.

Voluvr writes:

Here will be the findings of the study:
1 Turf fields don't help the faster team. The surface speeds up or slows down each team to the same measure. Big Myth.
2 Too many variables to determine one is safer than the other. A controlled study is not possible as you can't create the same force, speed, weight, load stress to the body on both surfaces with a willing set of identical twins to sustain the injury.
Where one field gives and causes a sprain, the other field doesn't and causes a stress fracture.

Who's making the money here?

Eric, just go hit somebody, we're pulling for you.

tnsportsman writes:

The original astro turf was all artificial installed on concrete. (What Neyland Had)

The new artificial mixed into real grass is on a sand base with golf green like drainage over the entire playing surface. This design has been used in places like Green Bay (Packers), Washington University, Seattle etc.

As a Developer of Golf Courses we are testing these mixes as well. It's a very good playing surface that reduces knee and ankle injuries. It also withstands year round weather and lots of wear and tear.

The type mixes and development still has a way to go, but will certainly be the norm in a few years.

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

gohawks1 writes:

How does one go about "testing" these different surfaces? Do you just put a bunch of guys out there to run around on them until someone blows out a knee?

nocleats writes:

in response to gohawks1:

How does one go about "testing" these different surfaces? Do you just put a bunch of guys out there to run around on them until someone blows out a knee?

My thoughts exactly! Lets find out which ones players really get hurt the worst on? Then lets tell the poor kid "sorry bout your knee and your careeer, but look at how many others you will have protected! Bully Bully!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Agent_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Astro turf had it's beginning in the Astrodome in Houston. Thus the term Astro turf. And now you know the rest of the story...goodday

WOB4Tenn writes:

As a graduate of the college of ag, i'm a little disgusted that they would close the dairy to grow fake grass. still like berry though.

govolshw writes:

NO TURF! KEEP REAL GRASS!

Caspian writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Haven't we been down this road once before with a synthetic football field that produced alot of injuries? It's like Dick Allen of the Phillies said back in the day - "If a horse can't eat it, I don't want to play on it."

Yes, we have been down this road before. They were saying THEN exactly the same thing they're saying NOW. Reduce injuries, better than grass, scientific progress, blah, blah, blah. UT was a VERY early adopter back then. It was horrible. More injuries. Ball bounced to high. Carpet burns. Field hard as a rock. Discolored and faded sections. Ripped it up. Went back to grass.

tnsportsman writes:

LOL it is real grass with a much better sand base and a 'little' artifical mixed in. You actually irrigate and cut this grass as well.

Unless you played at Seattle or Green Bay, you have not played on the MIXED Real Grass and Astro Turf.

I played on the old concrete base 100% astro turf too and blew out my knee. It really was bad!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Agent_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry took your post at face value of what is astro turf.

jesusvol4 writes:

Not the same turf. They have far better technology now to lay a better foundation underneath the actual playing surface. The grass they can make is almost like the real thing. Then, as I said before the foundation underneath will have more give to it. I'm sure they will have some sort of synthetic beads, tiny as dirt, to put underneath and on top of the multimillion dollar drain system. Good job Eric. It's just that the kids in little leagues and high schools will not be able to play on it. Education comes first there, no offense intended. The budgets are at a breaking point already.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Here will be the findings of the study:
1 Turf fields don't help the faster team. The surface speeds up or slows down each team to the same measure. Big Myth.
2 Too many variables to determine one is safer than the other. A controlled study is not possible as you can't create the same force, speed, weight, load stress to the body on both surfaces with a willing set of identical twins to sustain the injury.
Where one field gives and causes a sprain, the other field doesn't and causes a stress fracture.

Who's making the money here?

Eric, just go hit somebody, we're pulling for you.

Maybe you should write a book about how it is to live in a sad, gray, cynical world like you seem to live in.

Ringside writes:

I hope all works out for EB. What a class guy. Should be interesting to see what can develop with new testing of turf. The foundation for the turf is just as important. It would be great if ou could have both, the cushioned, sure footing of the turf and the natural grass. Hopefully this research turns up something safe and EB has many successful years in the NFL.
GBO

VolsToTheWall writes:

you guys do realize that all your anti-turf comments is the point of this whole thing: to make Astro Turf better and more widespread than the welcome mat of a Motor Home.

Also, this isn't them tryin to get us to use Astro Turf, We just have a top notch Ag program and plenty of space at the Ag locations and it just so happens UT needs money so don't freak out.

jimvolfan writes:

The return of "Doug's rug?" I'm all for research at the University, but lets please get it right this time before installing it anywhere but a pasture.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Where in the article does it say it's being installed at Neyland? Right. It doesn't.

Volfantm writes:

in response to WOB4Tenn:

As a graduate of the college of ag, i'm a little disgusted that they would close the dairy to grow fake grass. still like berry though.

They closed the dairy? And gave it to the plant science people? I am disgusted also.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree, someday this mix of artifical and real grass will be great. Neyland has great 100% Real Grass, with a great drainage system like a golf green and great Maintenance Staff with the Bucks to make it the best!

This is only research and dollars for UT the University. No worries on having it at Neyland anytime soon.

Yes, I have played on and installed the Astro Turf/Real Grass Greens and Fairways; they are awesome!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

wsmows writes:

How do I bid on the mowing contract?

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