When Carlsbad High School’s $790,000 artificial turf field started looking lumpy and thin just five years after it was installed, school district officials reached out to the manufacturer, FieldTurf USA.
FieldTurf gave them two options: The school could get a new field with the same turf material that fell apart for free, or pay to upgrade to a synthetic grass that would hold up for eight years or more, as initially promised.
Carlsbad opted for turf that wouldn’t wear out prematurely. In total, over six years, the school paid FieldTurf $942,000 for two artificial grass fields even though the first round of turf was defective and had an eight-year warranty.
Defective FieldTurf fields installed from 2006 to 2011 are rapidly falling apart all over the country, including in San Diego County, where more than 20 fields needed replacement while still under warranty. Fake turf grass is tearing out during normal use, creating unsightly and uneven playing surfaces that can pose a hazard for players. Instead of withstanding a beating from athletes and the sun for years, the blades quickly become brittle and shed, resulting in a field failure.
A sweeping review of public records obtained by Voice of San Diego reveals that as FieldTurf’s fields failed prematurely, the company demanded more money from local schools wanting a sturdy replacement, seeking $25,000 to $300,000 for “upgraded” turf. Those unwilling to pay for a second time would receive the same weak grass in their replacement field and no new warranty.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Hasn't this unwarranted public shaming of a company and its' Sales Rep gone on long enough? If this invented travesty is so bad, where are the names and titles of the public officials that conspired to "leave the public holding the bag"?
I'll share my take on some of the facts of life in business and what I think happened here:
1. Products sometimes fail.
2. Warranties are honored to fulfill the original committed timeframe. If the warranty calls for eight years and it only lasts five and you get a new field that lasts five more, you're two years ahead of the game. (Just like my water pump going out at 70k miles and being replaced with one that makes it to 140k. On my 100k warranty, I'm good with that!)
3. Upgrades are offered as an option. Nothing wrong with that as long as it's an option that can be rejected and the original warranty is honored -- which it has been!
4. If your goal is a "product recall" the issue is with the manufacturer, not the distributor/manufacturer's rep (FieldTurf) who actually approached/sued the manufacturer for support for themselves and their customers.
5. You haven't made a strong case for a product recall. If there is a safety factor involved, which has been hinted at by the reporter but has not been documented, that's one thing. But if it's cosmetic (fading, normal wear and tear), that is NOT a cause for EVERYBODY to get a new field carte blanche. Get real!
6. You're slamming the FieldTurf rep for doing his job: i.e., differentiating his product and selling the value of his product so well that the customer specifies his specs until the competition matches it. This sounds like the whining of the company/rep who just got out-worked and out-hustled by a better salesperson. Calling him out by name is completely uncalled for, especially when you leave those who wrote the specs (public employees) anonymous.
7. The only hint of "investigative journalism" I detected was you reference to the e-mail implying a possible offer of a kick-back. This was the only thing I felt could have been egregious about this whole matter and I thought it could've and should've been reported on more thoroughly (Who followed up on it and how? What ramifications occurred? Why or why not? Did a publicly paid employee let this slide? Is there any other evidence of possible bribes or kickbacks? This, I think, could have been the REAL story that would have justified such a lengthy series of articles.).
Ashley, thank you for reporting. In Carlsbad the voters approved a bond for over 200 million dollars, They built Sage Creek High School, as well as Rebuilt Carlsbad High School and added the new field you see in the first part of the story. The Oversight committee for the bond spending included many of the people who were involved in the projects.....which was completely wrong. It was so bad that fabricated statistics were presented as fact to justify the trustees approval of the new performing arts center at SAGE CREEK. AS for the football field, there has always been a lopsided relationship with CBAD and Football. It is the number one focus. Luckily, they have a new super, and some new trustees in there to improve things for the kids.
Here's a thought...perhaps one of the contributing factors in the quick degradation of the turf fields is the ongoing business the Districts are involved in of renting these taxpayer funded fields to commercial entities and 'for-profit' organizations instead of reserving the fields for school use.
What is the alternative? Grass fields that take water, which we don't have much of, or no field at all?
Many elementary schools in SDUSD currently have decomposed granite (hard, rocky dirt) for their fields. Don't our kiddos deserve a better alternative, and again, grass needs water which we don't have much of.
Sports or no sports, our youth and adults need places to play and exercise. I believe the investment is well spent. I am not justifying field turf and their shenanigans, but our county needs fields.
"convincing several school districts to skip a competitive bid normally required of public works projects and sole-source the job to them"
Please don't investigate HOW we were convinced!
School District Purchasing Agents
Hummm... where did books and computers go? Wasting money for athletic crap. The result: dumb kids with bad knees....
Bond monies wasted.. That should be part of the story imho. If the schools paid a premium ......
Problems with the Duraspine fields arose early on, said former FieldTurf executive Kenneth Gilman, son of the company’s late founder.
“In late 2006, it became clear that the product wasn’t performing in accordance with our earlier expectations,” Gilman told the court, according to the transcripts. This occurred while the product, “sold at the highest prices in the market. The premium over the competition was approximately a dollar per square foot.”
Do the school districts have an obligation to be good stewards with bond monies?
@Voice SD Old turf goes to the local landfill. The rubber infill is typically reused.