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Natural Turf Converted to FieldTurf in Five Days at Gillette

Tue April 03, 2007 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

RAD Sports removed and changed the turf at Gillette Stadium this past fall.

Carefully planned, supported by the area Caterpillar dealership every step of the way and executed flawlessly, the work was finished ahead of an unforgivingly tight deadline.

The background is well known by New England Patriots football fans — after exploring many options and considering all the alternatives, including constant re-sodding, draining, and even a costly heating system under the surface, the Patriots were finally ready to give up their turf. The preference had been to stay with a natural surface, but player safety made the decision inevitable.

The work included removing the current turf, excavating the soil, executing improvements to the drainage system, placing a layer of engineered crushed stone and setting a “soil” made of rubber from recycled tires and shoes, mixed with silica sand. The new synthetic surface, FieldTurf, made of monofilament fiber, was then laid down on top of the soil.

The total window of opportunity? Eleven days, and for RAD Sports, the company contracted to do the work, it was even tighter as the company received a “Go ahead” contingent on being able to get construction started the following morning.

“We had 12 hours to coordinate manpower and equipment, and we pulled it through with some old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity,” said RAD Sports co-owner Derek Delmonico. Delmonico explained that he and his brother Rob had low beds on standby, loaded with Cat equipment ready to be delivered to the Gillette Stadium, as they were optimistically anticipating that they would get the contract.

RAD Sports relied on a deep lineup consisting of two Cat 320CL and two Cat 307C excavators equipped with large cleanup buckets, a Cat DD 486 double drum roller, two Cat 246B skid steers, a Cat 966H wheel loader, a Cat D3G track-type tractor and a D6N LGP Cat track-type tractor. Challenger tractors were used by Northeast Turf to lay down the new turf.

The hours of work were not your typical office hours.

“We operated day and night, non-stop,” said Rob Delmonico. “The schedule had absolutely no room for downtime and our production capacity and our commitment to meeting the deadline were backed up by our equipment dealer — Milton CAT’s 120 percent commitment to us.”

In Derek’s words, 24/7 access to parts was a particularly crucial advantage.

“When you are running against the clock, a failed hydraulic hose can cause everything to come to a stop, and having a Milton CAT parts specialist on call for us throughout the entire job gave us an outstanding edge.”

Besides the parts specialist, the support team made available by the dealer included a technician with a field service truck exclusively assigned to the job, ready to provide help at any time of the day or night. It turned out that backup was not needed and everything ran smoothly, but Dave Fenton, application specialist, who was there throughout the project, explained, “When your client is working against those deadlines, nothing beats being there in person.”

Not for Beginners

RAD Sports is no newcomer to the field of sports. One of its most recent projects is a very large athletic field complex in Lancaster, Mass; Derek Delmonico described it as a challenging but exciting project that allowed RAD Sports an excellent opportunity to put their knowledge and equipment to the test.

“We installed 16 soccer fields for the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association. Eleven of them are natural grass, and five are artificial turf.”

What Happens Next?

“The outcome of the games and season is not under our control,” said Derek, “but we feel really good at having contributed to making sure our teams have the best possible physical environment in which to play.”

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