Problematic turf field at Crimson Cliffs High being replaced by subcontractor with rough past

ST. GEORGE — The new subcontractor hired to redo Crimson Cliffs High School’s problematic athletic field has a history of fraud allegations and problematic products.

The company, FieldTurf, has previously dealt with lawsuits in more than 10 states, with the most recent being a lawsuit filed by Rancho High School in Las Vegas. That lawsuit is expected to go to trial, according to a report by ABC KTNV. There was also a federal lawsuit filed against FieldTurf in 2017.

The company’s Duraspine technology was proven to degrade quickly, according to a six-month investigation done by New Jersey Advance Media. In a lawsuit, the city of Fremont, California, alleges that FieldTurf knew the product was defective since at least 2005, yet continued to install it across the country:

FieldTurf specifically knew that its fields would not last for the full eight-year warranty period due to structural inadequacies. Nevertheless, FieldTurf told prospective customers, like Fremont, that the fields would last 10 years or more.

Among the venues installed with the turf were Dixie State University in 2010 and Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2009.

The turf at Rice-Eccles was replaced under warranty, but the field at Dixie State was replaced by the university just six years after the initial installment.

Crimson Cliffs turf field before work to remove the turf began, Washington, Utah. Oct. 9, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

“We didn’t have any issues with the turf,” Dixie State Athletic Director Jason Boothe told St. George News. “It was just due for a replacement in 2016.”

Boothe said he was unaware of the allegations against FieldTurf and the lawsuits that have been filed against the company around the country.

According to Boothe, the field was almost to the end of its life expectancy, and the university felt it was a good time to replace it with the renovations to the stadium that began in 2016.

With regard to the new turf installed by FieldTurf in 2016, Boothe said that the department is happy with “the product, the installation and the service and warranty coverage.”

Duraspine turf failure

The Duraspine technology installed by FieldTurf in problematic fields across the country consisted of fibers that were manufactured without proper UV stabilization, which led to premature degradation. Use of the Duraspine turf was discontinued by the company in 2012.

FieldTurf blames the manufacturer of the fibers in the turf for the shortened life expectancy. The material was produced by TenCate Thiolon in the United Arab Emirates.

Crimson Cliffs at Snow Canyon High School, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2019 | File photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

According to the lawsuit filed by the city of Fremont, FieldTurf called the degradation of the fields usual wear and tear, which was not covered under warranty. The Duraspine technology promised to prolong the life expectancy of the field, but when the problems were brought to FieldTurf, they would allegedly replace the field with the same defective materials. If the customer declined to have the defective product reinstalled, FieldTurf would offer to upgrade the material for an additional cost.

In deposition testimony, Eric Daliere, president and CEO of FieldTurf, conceded that FieldTurf continued to sell Monofilament Surfaces with the defective fiber and used the same defective material when handling warranty claims.

FieldTurf has also installed the fields at Snow Canyon, Dixie and Desert Hills high schools. The turf installed at these schools and the new field at Dixie State employ a different technology than Duraspine.

“We’re fully in control of all of our fibers, and that’s an old issue,” FieldTurf Rocky Mountain Regional Manager Jed Easterbrook told St. George News. “We have been manufacturing our fibers for 10 years and have had no issues with fibers. We wanted to get out of the third-party manufacturing after that whole ordeal happened, and we make our own fibers now, so we’re fully integrated.”

Desert Hills vs. Dixie at Desert Hills High School, St. George, Utah, Aug. 30, 2019 | File photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

Washington County School District Communication Director Steve Dunham said the district’s high schools and other schools throughout the state have had a great experience with FieldTurf, but he was not aware of the company’s past problems. FieldTurf came recommended from another school district in the state, and Washington County School District officials examined the other high schools’ fields before approving FieldTurf’s product.

The same turf being installed at Crimson Cliffs has also been installed at the University of Arizona, the University of Utah and the University of Texas El Paso, Easterbrook said.

FieldTurf will begin laying the new field at Crimson Cliffs High School on Nov. 1 and expects the project to be done by Nov. 10-11, weather permitting.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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