At the University of Vermont, the multipurpose tennis and turf facility provides space for a variety of campus recreation programs throughout the year.
Because of its versatility, the campus rec department is able to adjust the number of tennis courts versus turf space depending on the season and student needs. For example, part of the year, the space is half turf and half tennis courts, and the other part of the year the facility only has turf.
“We don’t have outdoor [tennis] courts, so it transforms the space and gives the campus community the opportunity for recreational needs, wants or desires,” said Blake Simpfenderfer, the associate director of campus recreation and operations at the University of Vermont. “It also allows our varsity teams and general open recreation users to go in and use it when it’s not being scheduled or rented out.”
In addition to varsity teams and open recreation users, many others benefit from the multipurpose space as well, including club and intramural teams. And because of the space’s popularity in the winter months, it can be used from 6 a.m. to midnight, five to six days a week.
While being able to offer a turf space year-round is very beneficial, it does come with required upkeep and some concerns to keep in mind. “We’re having to increase the amount of money we’re paying on the seams and on repairs we’re having to do on the turf,” said Simpfenderfer. “We’re also seeing a lot of debris from the fibers starting to come up more and more.”
Some of the upkeep practices for the multipurpose space include brushing the turf with a pull-behind every other month, pressure washing, and rotating the different tiles a quarter at a time to prevent wear and tear on certain parts.
Because the turf in the multipurpose space is now roughly 15 to 20 years old, and causing some concerns for the campus rec department, talk of replacement is on the horizon.
According to Simpfenderfer, if you are considering turf in your facility, choose an option that is very versatile. “It’s always a fine balance of being budget conscious,” he said. “If you’re doing your due diligence and research, you can always balance out the cost verses quality arguments, and for me, I always air on the side of quality verses going with a cheaper product.”
In addition to versatility and quality, Simpfenderfer elaborated the importance of upkeep to justify your investment. “I’m a firm believer in being very rigid about your annual and quarterly maintenance on the turf, as well as all your equipment to make sure you’re extending the life as long as possible – If you’re going to make the investment, you should make it on the backside too, to keep that investment worthwhile for as long as you can.”