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Advanced Watering System Keeps Turf Healthy at Atlanta's Turner Stadium

Underground System Also Keeps High School and Community Fields Green

ATLANTA -- To have the ideal grass baseball field, the Atlanta Braves selected a natural turf management system that uses special drain and watering pipe from Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS), Columbus, Ohio.

The Turner Stadium installation, designed by The Motz Group, Cincinnati, uses an irrigation and drainage system called Prescription Athletic Turf® (PAT®) to keep a constant level of moisture available to 130,000 square feet of specially bred grass in the playing area.

The PAT system gives Ed Mangan, the Braves field director, and his groundskeeping staff a technological edge over Mother Nature.

The computerized, fully automated system, with touch-screen controls, can drain 102,000 gallons of water an hour -- keeping up with even the heaviest Atlanta downpour. The vacuum-enhanced drainage system includes more than four miles of buried piping which also allows sub-irrigation -- watering the grass roots directly with underground "sprinklers."

Mangan and his crew will t the field planted with a sod hybrid licensed to the Greg Norman Turf Company, Avon Park, Fla., owned by the professional golfer.

"Turner Field and its state-of-the-art PAT® system will provide us with better tools to intelligently manage playing field conditions," Mangan said. "With PAT, we can combine the tough and consistent playing surface of artificial turf with the player-frily conditions provided by real grass."

The key to keeping the PAT system sod thriving is a flat pipe, called AdvanEDGE®, from ADS.

Invented for highway drainage by Jim Goddard, the company's chief engineer, the perforated pipe's original use called for it to be installed on its edge, giving the largest possible drainage profile while reducing trench width.

In Turner Field, however, AdvanEDGE is laid flat, with its wide surface down.

The flat AdvanEDGE® profile permits the pipe to be installed closer to the turf than possible with a round pipe, thus providing or draining water near the roots. Special fittings designed by ADS and The Motz Group connect the flat AdvanEDGE pipe to the round ADS, N-12®, six-inch check pipe.

At Turner, the pipe rests on an impermeable 30 millimeter LLDPE geomembrane, which controls subsurface water table seepage. The feed/drain system connects through six-inch diameter collector pipes to a computer-controlled station, near the right field bullpen, which can pump or vacuum water as necessary.

"AdvanEDGE is certainly unique," said Mark Heinlein, Motz Group senior vice president. "It's the only pipe that could accomplish this feat. We've used it in every PAT® installation since 1995."

Heinlein and his crew had only six weeks before opening day, to put a baseball diamond into this stadium that was used for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Olympic field -- designed to fit inside the running track and used for the opening and closing ceremonies -- was not meant for long-term use. To prepare for the Braves, the field had to be demolished and completely rebuilt into a baseball configuration.

According to Kevin Rapp, ADS market manager, "A system using AdvanEDGE pipe is very practical for any playing field.

"Even without the state-of-the-art computerized support system installed for the Atlanta Braves, this pipe works as an efficient gravity drainage system, both flat and on , that will permit water to drain quickly."

Jim Burkart, of James Burkart Associates, Inc., Upper Arlington, Ohio, recently used AdvanEDGE® vertically on its edge under about half of an 80 acre high school and middle school in Hillard, Ohio.

"The AdvanEDGE system also helps drain park playing fields, tennis courts and varsity stadiums. Without it we would have unplayable wet ground," Burkart said. His landscape architecture design firm has used AdvanEDGE in a half-dozen high school varsity, middle school and community playing fields.

How to tell whether your field can use the ADS drainage systems? Burkart says the key is your region and its soil characteristics.

"Basically, fields in areas with wet weather patterns, combined with soil that drains poorly can benefit from this flat-pipe drainage system," he said.

"The design of the system itself will dep on how much water needs to be removed from a field during the playing season," he explained. "That's best determined by the field managers in consultation with a landscape architect or civil engineer knowledgeable about the area."

Burkart said the AdvanEDGE drainage pipe itself is economical. Total installation costs are also depent on the on-center spacing needed to handle the local drainage level and necessary accessory items, such as perimeter interceptor tiles and piping to connect the AdvanEdge drain pipe with standard sewer-system connectors.

"The system is easy to install with standard trenching techniques," Burkart said. "Either backhoe or power trenching equipment can be used, deping on what's available and what kind of budget and time constraints the field manager faces."

For more information, contact Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. 4640 Trueman Boulevard, Hillard, OH 43206. Tel.: 1-800-821-6710.