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Atlanta Silverbacks Stadium Gets New Turf

2011 May 24
by Chris Martz

This story is written by new IMS contributor, Chris Martz from Atlanta, Georgia.

When the Atlanta Silverbacks announced their return to professional soccer last November, many challenges faced the dormant franchise. After not fielding a team for two seasons, the Silverbacks had to start from scratch in almost every aspect of building a professional sports team.

Silverbacks Park flood in September of 2009 that completely inundated the park.

One obstacle that was not present was finding a venue for the team. Atlanta Silverbacks Park has been the team’s home since 2006, replacing the antiquated DeKalb Memorial Stadium. The centerpiece of the park is Silverbacks Stadium, originally known as ReMax Greater Atlanta Stadium.

With a seating capacity of 5,000, the stadium opened to league play in June of 2006. Curiously, before construction for the stadium’s seating, the field that would eventually become the Silverbacks’ playing surface was natural grass.

When the Silverbacks began USL-1 play in the stadium, FieldTurf had replaced the natural grass to the surprise of many fans. In addition to the stadium, the two neighboring fields were also FieldTurf, leaving not a blade of natural grass on any playing surface at the park.

“With the use that our fields get, grass is not an option,” said Atlanta Silverbacks President Michael Oki. “When Silverbacks Park was originally built the field was a grass field and due to drainage and maintenance issues we quickly realized that grass would not be a viable option.”

The original playing surface was laid in 2006, when the stadium opened for professional play. Despite having a warranty of eight years, by the time the Silverbacks were to return to the field in 2011, the FieldTurf in the stadium had experienced rapid deterioration. Many factors contributed to this, including a flood in September of 2009 that completely inundated the park.

“The flood had a moderate effect, as it did put a lot of debris and silt on the field,” said Oki. “However, the field had already been slated to be replaced due to the turf having warranty issues with the fibers. The fibers in the original turf were defective and not holding up properly.”

Newly laid FieldTurf at Silverback Stadium. The hill in the background is where the flood photo was taken.

Luckily for the NASL, the Silverbacks front office had been in discussions to replace the playing surface in the stadium long before the professional team announced its return. “The surface was already slated to be replaced prior to the return of the Pro team,” Oki said. “It was something that we had been discussing with FieldTurf for over a year.”

Atlanta opened the 2011 season with three consecutive home games with a trip to play Tampa Bay one week later. Between their April 23rd game against Fort Lauderdale and their May 7th game against Edmonton, TurfDogs, the same company that installed the original FieldTurf, installed the new surface.

The difference is easily discernible, as the fibers resemble natural grass much more closely. In addition, the infill, comprised of a layer of rubber pellets on top of sand, is much more malleable. Once the surface is played on a little more, the rubber pellets should settle a bit to more closely resemble natural grass.

In the two games since replacing the turf, the Silverbacks have failed to score in both games, while conceding two goals, both to Edmonton in a 2-0 loss on May 7. As only one of two teams in the NASL that uses an artificial surface at their home stadium (Edmonton being the other,) Atlanta has a distinct home-field advantage.

In addition, the new playing surface will help keep Silverbacks Park as one of the top soccer destinations in Atlanta for years to come.

16 Responses
  1. CoconutMonkey permalink
    May 24, 2011

    Woa! That pic reminds me of when Davenport’s baseball stadium flooded back in the 90′s. Looks like a giant swimming pool.

  2. Bart permalink
    May 24, 2011

    With the amount of Hispanic league play this venue is involved with, the new turf was desperately needed. Lousy location, from what I have been told..

  3. Chris Martz permalink
    May 24, 2011

    Actually, adult leagues use the park pretty much every night, I’ve played out there for 5 years now. Most of the Hispanic league action is limited to the weekends. But with the first team, the Reserves and the Women’s team all calling the stadium home, it was overdue for replacement.

  4. thesuperrookie permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Who cares what kind of league plays there?

    It sounds to me the field is used a lot which resulted in a rational decision to install field turf.

  5. Chris Martz permalink
    May 25, 2011

    “Who cares what kind of league plays there?”

    Because there is a common misconception that the Silverbacks are renting the fields out to local Hispanic leagues and they get the most use out of the fields. While they still do this on a limited basis, the main use of the fields including the stadium, is by adult rec leagues, which the Silverbacks have staffed and run themselves since 2004-05, before the stadium was completed.

  6. yankiboy permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Chris Martz is now officially on the IMS team.
    SWEET!

    Nice debut, Bro! I still gotta get down that way. That trip is years overdue.

    Now, that Martz has made the move to the written IMS word, we gotta get his brother from a different mother, the superrookie to sign his contract.

    The two of them are ballerz. Straight up. And their IMS NASL match reports are always entertaining.

  7. Chris Martz permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Thanks for the kind words Jay! I hope to have more stuff coming, I have an idea for a great story that will take some time to put together. But it’s one that is definitely worth the time.

  8. Soccer Boy permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Is that Nessy I see swimming around on their pitch?

  9. Kofte permalink
    May 25, 2011

    @Bart – I’ve heard the comment about it being a lousy location a few times, but I don’t think it’s too bad. Right off two major freeways, it’s easy to get to from the city and outlying suburbs. The park entrance and circuitous drive is a little awkward, but minor. Shame there aren’t a couple pubs in walking distance!
    Nice article, Chris.

  10. thesuperrookie permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Bart- Is there a good location for anything in Atlanta? I would think the amount of sprawl in the city would make it difficult to build a location anywhere, but then again, if it was a USL stadium it would probably be an amazing location with easy access to two major freeways.

    Yankiboy- I appreciate the kind words, but I am already on the IMS retainer as “lead commenter.”

  11. May 25, 2011

    Bart – your comments seem to suggest that you have never even been to the field. So why all the negativity?

    I played on the old and the new fields. It is much improved now. They also added a new, full-size field on the hill that is shown in one of the pictures. Unfortunately, they haven’t put in nets yet, so if your shot is off target you may be in for a hike.

  12. Strikers Return permalink
    May 25, 2011

    @Chris – Nicely done, keep up the good work! The IMS staff is becoming legion! I’ve watched the Strikers (on streaming) play in Atlanta twice now this season. First time was before the new turf, second time was after. I have to say, it seemed to play much smoother the second game. Now that the Strikers are done coming into Silverbacks park, here’s hoping that you guys start achieving some home field advantage and pick up some wins so that your home crowds can get a bump and keep you on the north side of that 3,000 average.

  13. yankiboy permalink
    May 25, 2011

    “I appreciate the kind words, but I am already on the IMS retainer as ‘lead commenter’.”
    -superrookie

    I used to be on retainer as the “tounge planted firmly somewhere commenter, the head typo in charge” guy. Now I just make typos.

    I didn’t have zippy ambitions and shyed away from the IMS convocation.

    Just a few words of advice:

    Never underestimate the persuasive powers of BQ. When your name finds its way as a target on his recruitment list, you just never know…

    Yoyu may eventually end up waiting for your official IMS polo shirt and end of year 1099 form in the mail, Playah.

    :D

  14. Bart permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Not trying to be negative at all. The upper Northeast area of Atlanta off of Jimmy Carter, by all Atlantan’s account, is a major nightmare during regular traffic hours. This has an impact on fan attendance during the games, that is all.

    On the other hand, from what I know, this is the best soccer specific venue outside of the Atlanta Beat in Atlanta.

  15. May 25, 2011

    Bart, is there an area of the country that you aren’t familiar with? Especially when it comes to soccer. Well traveled are you?

  16. Bart permalink
    May 25, 2011

    As Garth Brooks says, I have friends in low places :)

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