Fairfield Athletes are Ready for a New Turf Field: What is the Hold Up?


Roger Ludlowe Middle School

Cassidy Meehan

Turf fields would have a positive impact on competitive athletics in Fairfield, however, the town government has not yet approved of their establishment. 

The Fairfield Athletic Foundation (FAF), a volunteer group of Fairfield parents and former athletes, is advocating for turf fields in town. They are in the process of making their foundation a non-profit.

The FAF has put together a total of three initiatives for potential turf fields at Roger Ludlowe Middle School and Sullivan Field. These blueprints show accommodations for six different sports per location. 

Turf fields are a costly investment, but member of the FAF, Dylan O’Connor argues, “A turf will be a great investment in the long term because grass fields are costly to maintain, while turf requires little upkeep. Sullivan Field alone costs $75,000 a year to cut, line, and water.” 

The FAF has been working with the local government, pushing for a turf field at Roger Ludlowe Middle School. There has been positive feedback from local officials and O’Connor states, “We have been working with Anthony Calabrese and he has put together a waterfall chart, which includes our project.” 

O’Connor explains others who the FAF has been communicating and meeting with, including “the Board of Finance, Board of Education, and the Board of Selectmen. Generally speaking, there is broad support.” Specifically, the FAF has gained the support of First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick.

The FAF has positive expectations for the future. O’Connor explains, “Timing is a factor, as Fairfield has a lot of competing priorities, but I hope by early March this project will be approved.” 

There was a concern of chemical exposures coming from the crumb rubber infill commonly used in turfs, but it is proven invalid. The Department of Public Health states, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that current information from a number of tire crumb studies does not show an elevated health risk from playing on fields with artificial turf or tire crumbs.” 

Not all Fairfield athletes have the same opportunity to practice on a turf field, as athletes from the schools with whom they compete against do, leaving them at a disadvantage. The Athletic Director at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, Todd Parness states, “If our athletes practice on the surface they play on, it would help from a competitive standpoint.”

Specifically in the fall, many high school teams resort to playing on grass, as there are 12 sports’ teams and only one turf field on each high school campus. These grass fields, which include Sturges Field, the Roger Ludlowe Middle School field, Sullivan Field, and the Warde High School field, have bumpy, uneven terrain, creating an environment that leaves students vulnerable to injuries. When speaking with the Athletic Trainer at Ludlowe High School, Melanie Sulich, she noticed, “Especially after this past fall, there have been more injuries on grass fields.” 

From a social aspect, the scarce number of turf fields causes tension between teams. Sulich explains, “There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everybody on the turf for the amount of time they would like. Because of that, people can get frustrated.” Instead of improving Fairfield’s competitive stance by establishing a new turf, competition within Fairfield schools is being suppressed due to its absence. 

The teams that play on grass fields are prone to game and practice cancellations. Parness says, “While other schools can continue to practice, we cannot because the rain makes the fields muddy and difficult to play on.” 

With the installation of an additional turf field, practices would become less crowded and can easily be scheduled for after sundown, due to the lighting that would be provided. O’Connor states, “It’s time we make our fields up to snuff with our surrounding towns.”