Bob Segall, WTHR, Published August 18, 2016, Updated December 12, 2016


“We met with the supplier, FieldTurf, and we determined it was in the best interest of both the university and FieldTurf to replace it sooner than later,” said Mark Burk, director of stadium and event services at the University of Utah, which decided last year to replace the turf at Rice-Eccles football stadium. The turf was seven years old.

Across the country, some high schools say their artificial turf fields started to wear out even sooner than that.

While FieldTurf promotional materials and sales pitches promote the financial benefits of its 10-year lifespan, customers like Indiana University say “normal wear and tear” necessitated faster replacement of its turf.

FieldTurf acknowledges it sold defective synthetic turf fields to at least 140 schools. The exact number is not known. The cause is.

In a federal lawsuit filed back in 2011, the company accused one of its suppliers, TenCate, of producing “defective fibers” that are “degrading prematurely.” According to the lawsuit, the grass-like fibers frayed and broke down – especially on fields installed in warm-weather states -- because they lacked the proper application of UV protection promised by the supplier.

“When you’re shoveling product out into the market that you know is going to fail, that’s fraud,” said attorney Peter Lindborg. He and Irina Mazor represent three California schools that are suing FieldTurf for allegedly selling them a defective product.