The Problem

Athletic fields have significant demands placed on them when they are used by the National Football League or universities—they must be used during wet weather and yet they cannot have a wet surface. To keep fields dry in wet weather, they are built in layers; first a sub-base with drains and drainage ditches every 15 feet, then 4 inches of washed stone installed over the sub-base and drainage ditches in the sub-base, and then 12 inches of special sand is installed over the washed stone. This is a very expensive process in terms of construction time and materials, which prohibits many users from building this type of field.

Value Engineered Solution

Grove Teates value-engineered a solution that led to the design and construction of the first “sand-cap” field. This design used a graded sub-base with drains installed every 15 feet, then a 6 inch layer of C-33 sand with amendments was spread over the sub-base and drains. Note that the stone and 6-inch sand layers were omitted.

This new, less-expensive soil profile was installed at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1997; the design reduced material cost and construction time by a least 40 percent compared to a standard stone/sand profile as specified by the NFL. This lower price tag allowed the university to have a good playing field in spite of not having sufficient budget to build an NFL soil profile field. Since then, many other “sand cap” fields have been built successfully to the same specification.