Mavericks Letter to JPA and City of Berkeley

2014125499f2fc1a283We are now happy to share a letter from the Mavericks Board of Directors.

Dear Members of the JPA for the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex:

Mavericks Soccer Club is a Berkeley-based soccer club serving boys and girls, ages 9-19, and includes hundreds of families who live within the five JPA cities.  We are writing to raise our concerns regarding the condition of the Gilman fields, aka Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex.

We are aware that the JPA plans to replace the current artificial turf later this year.  We support that decision.  Later in this letter we will recommend that the JPA install a “shock pad” beneath the new turf to make the new fields safer.

But we believe there is a potentially more urgent matter.  We have been recently informed that a 2012 study of the field’s surface hardness, known as GMAX testing, concluded that sections of the field may not be within safe limits.  A GMAX rating in excess of 200 is considered unsafe.  There were two zones at the Gilman fields with GMAX ratings that exceeded 200 in 2012.  To our knowledge, no further study has been done since then.  We believe this study should be updated promptly to assess whether the fields pose an unacceptable safety risk, and if so, whether they should be closed before construction begins on the new fields.

As for the new fields, we strongly recommend that the JPA install a shock pad beneath the new turf to mitigate risks of concussions and other impact-related injuries.  There is growing data and understanding of the dangers of concussions, both to adults who use the fields but especially to our children.  We therefore believe an ethical imperative exists to mitigate these risks through currently available materials, technology and best practices, including installation of a shock pad.

In addition to making the fields safer, installation of a shock pad will allow the JPA to select an alternative to crumb-rubber infill.  While potential risks associated with crumb-rubber requires further research, the planned turf replacement, along with a shock pad, provides an opportunity to install a comparably priced “green” alternative infill.

Concussions can be permanently debilitating.  Although not all risks of injury can be eliminated from rigorous sports, the JPA has both an opportunity, and an obligation, to prioritize safety when considering the current use of the Gilman fields, and planning for the next 10+ years of use of these fields.  Therefore, we urge the JPA (1) to promptly commission an update to the 2012 GMAX study to determine whether the current fields can continue to be used safely before they are replaced; and (2) to install a shock pad beneath the new artificial turf.

Thank you.

Board of Directors, Mavericks Soccer Club

Letter of support from ABSC for shock pad at Gilman

ABSCGood news!  Toney Wright and the ABSC Board of Directors have written a letter to the JPA supporting the City of Berkeley and their consultant’s recommendation to install a shock pad at Gilman. Shock pads reduce concussions along with knee and ankle injuries and are required for fields with non-crumb rubber infill. Please see letter below.

JPA meeting date to vote on the turf replacement project was rescheduled to 5/24/17.

We’re hoping other clubs will write letters of support as well! Please encourage your sports club or school to write a letter to the JPA endorsing the installation of a shock pad under the Turf carpet, and let us know so we can monitor the progress! Thanks!

See letter below.

Continue reading “Letter of support from ABSC for shock pad at Gilman”

Contact your city to ask for a safe field

Will we have a safe field at Gilman?  The choice of infill material will be decided on April 27 at the next JPA meeting by these 5 cities: Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, Richmond and Emeryville.  Next it will go to the City Council for final approval in June. Please contact your city representatives and encourage them to support a safe and durable new playing field with non-crumb rubber and a shock pad. Email addresses below for City Clerks, who will then distribute it to appropriate city contacts.

Berkeley – Berkeley Clerk clerk@cityofberkeley.infofsave

El Cerrito – Cheryl Morse

Richmond – Pamela Christian

Albany – no direct email forNicole Almaguer but online form is available at

Emeryville –

A safer field – how much more would it really cost?

Here is an estimation of the incremental cost of Safer Gilman Turf on a per athlete basis:
•  approximate incremental cost of shock pad and related work = $300K
•  cork infill costs the same or less than crumb rubber
•  a shock pad has a 16-year warranty
•  assume that the Gilman Turf user groups represent a total of 10,000 athletes
$300K / 10,000 athletes = $30 / athlete
$30 / 16 years = about $2 / year / athlete
We don’t yet know if these incremental costs will be paid by the JPA cities, user group fees, other means, or a combination of sources.
Even if it’s $400K and 8,000 athletes, that’s $50 /athlete, or about $3 / year / athlete.
This is a really good deal in exchange for improved safety and reduced environmental impact.  Furthermore, and perhaps most important to the five cities, it’s a cheap way to reduce potential liabilities, by adhering to current construction standards that call for shock pads, and by applying the precautionary principle and avoiding crumb rubber.  It’s especially important to avoid crumb rubber now, as tires manufactured in China, with higher levels of toxic substances, are moving into the supply of pellets.

Mar. 25 Meeting / Main Points

The City of Berkeley (COB) Gilman field project team presented their results. Here are highlights from each of the presenters:

A Shock Pad is Recommended for Turf Fields to Reduce Injuries

Wesley Bexton, Carducci Associates:
The main take away: a shock pad is recommended for all of the infill types. A shock pad would last for 16 years, i.e. two field renovation cycles.  Shock pads help reduce knee, ankle, foot, and toe injuries, and head-to-ground concussions.  Gmax ratings measure the hardness of the surface of fields.  Natural turf has a Gmax rating of 78 to 115.  The synthetic turf industry guideline is for a Gmax rating is under 165.  Fields with crumb rubber infill and no shock pad have ratings over 165.  When the Gmax rating exceeds 200, fields should be closed. He stated that the field is the safety equipment for soccer players.

(The turf fields at Gilman do not currently have shock pads.)

Crumb Rubber From Tire Waste Manufactured in China Has Substantially Higher Toxicity Levels

David Teeter, Millennium Consulting Associates:
When consultants work in the realm of environmental risks and public health, they attempt to quantify those risks in terms of the likelihood of negative outcomes due to exposure.  The two most dangerous carcinogens in crumb rubber are arsenic and PAH benzoin pyrene.  Acceptable risk is defined as the range of probabilities between 1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1,000,000.  Crumb rubber risk is estimated at 7 in 10,000,000, which is less than 1 in 1,000,000, and is therefore deemed an acceptable risk.  Increasingly, **crumb rubber from tires manufactured in China with higher toxicity levels have been incorporated into the crumb rubber supply in the US.  This crumb rubber falls under the not acceptable risk range, and it’s not feasible to exclude it from the mix.

(**We, Safe Gilman Turf Coordinators, think this is a strong argument against another field with crumb rubber!)

The consultants to the City of Berkeley presented three field options, with definitive budget numbers due shortly:

  1. cork field with shock pad
  2. crumb rubber with shock pad
  3. crumb rubber without shock pad

Cork and Coconut infill material (corkonut) is not being considered, as it would cost substantially more, partly due to an irrigation system needed. Additionally, the non-organic corkonut has a higher metal content due to pesticides used.  GreenPlay corkonut is organic, therefore we found out that it does not have the higher metal content.

Next Steps

The COB will provide their presentation notes in a week on their website.

We are requesting Gmax testing for current Gilman Fields, so that we will know how safe the current crumb rubber fields are.
Thanks for reading!
– Safe Gilman Turf Coordinators

JPA Meeting summary

A few of our members met with Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) representatives from the governing bodies of Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Emeryville, and Berkeley on 3/16. This group makes decisions regarding managing the Gilman fields. In addition to the city govt representatives, the ASFU and some club and school representatives are on this committee. The City of Berkeley Project Team presented preliminary recommendations and budget scenarios for Gilman Fields.

We formally introduced ourselves as Safe Gilman Turf and presented our hope for a non-toxic infill material.

The outcome of this meeting was fundamentally positive, and gave us hope that the JPA sees that a more natural product is more viable and affordable. This group will meet again in April or May to make a final decision about which product to select. To learn more about the discussion that took place at this meeting feel free to contact us.