LOUISVILLE, Ky.-This fall the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire football team will take to a new kind of field-one that contains recycled rubber. Regardless of the potential environmental benefits of using crumb rubber from some 10,000 scrap tires, university officials hope the new playing surface will reduce athletic injuries and cut down on maintenance costs.
``Rebound,'' the rubber-enhanced soil amenity that was laid in the field this May, is making its first appearance on a football field. But the patented technology already has found its way into a number of other athletic arenas, including a Montreal Expos minor league team's spring training facility in Lantana, Fla.
Cornelia Snyder, president of Rebound's Denver-based manufacturer, JaiTire Industries Inc., said the soil product is made of compost and between 10 and 20 percent crumb rubber.
That rubber helps the ground ``bounce'' back into place after the surface is impacted-by a foot, for example. By so doing, pockets of air around the grass roots are restored, keeping the blades from dying, she said.
The product provides for a ``softer'' playing surface and helps the ground drain better, Ms. Snyder added.
In fact, John Rogers III, a turf professor at Michigan State University, has published a study that found playing surfaces containing rubber reduced the number of athletic injuries compared with normal soil mixtures, Ms. Snyder said.
Besides the Expos' Santa Luces Baseball Complex in Florida mentioned earlier, Rebound also has been installed in a little league field at Sandalfoot Cove Park in Boca Raton, Fla.; a full-sized baseball field at Lancaster City Park in Lancaster, Calif.; a 3.5-acre amphitheater in Jacksonville, Fla.; and the 2.5-acre Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach, Fla.
Later this year, the University of Maryland will have Rebound placed in its practice football field, she said.
And orders are increasing as the product gains credibility among sports team owners, university administrators and public officials, the three primary markets for Rebound.
``We feel that we can do something for the community,'' Ms. Snyder said during the ARA World Tire Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, where Rebound was on display. ``That's the kind of thing that makes people feel good about what it is we're trying to sell.''
The idea of growing grass in rubberized soil seemed to catch the attention of recyclers attending the ARA conference this year, many of whom gathered around the JaiTire booth to learn about the product.
``It's a good way to recycle tires because we're adding value to the tires,'' Ms. Snyder said.
She noted that during the conference about 50 people expressed interest in selling the product, which retails for $328 a ton-about 10 times the cost of traditional compost material.