One of the surprises we found in our research, is that a natural turf is often much less costly than synthetic turf (also known as artificial turf), even with fairly heavy use. The cost for each field depends, of course, on the specifics of the site, drainage, and use patterns, so it is essential to do a specific comparison of the options for a specific site. Some generalities, however, may be helpful for background.
Based on numbers published by major synthetic turf suppliers, a new synthetic turf field can be expected to cost $800,000 or more, with an expected life of 8–10 years, for anannual cost of $80,000+ per year. Add to this the annual maintenance and repair costs, and annual costs can run $100,000 or more. Costs can be lower with synthetic turf if usage exceeds an average of about 50 hrs/wk.
The costs presented in the table below came from marketing materials from a synthetic turf company; actual costs are considerably higher.
Natural turf costs much less to install, but may have higher maintenance costs in some situations, especially if used more than 35 hrs/wk. Even in these situations, though, the total cost over the life of the field may be considerably lower than costs for synthetic turf.
According to the Sports Turf Managers Association, modern sports turf varieties do well in a variety of climate conditions and usage levels. In some areas, proper drainage systems are just as important as for synthetic turf.
Also see September 2015 update.
- What Is Synthetic Turf?
- What Do Athletes Think?
- Health & Safety Concerns
- Turf Burns – First Aid & Treatment
- Antibiotic-Resistant Infections – MRSA
- Environmental Pros & Cons
- Cost – Natural Turf v. Synthetic
- Play It Safe – Recommendations for Athletes, Parents, & Institutions
- Sources & Links for More Information
- Open Letter to Anyone Considering Synthetic Turf
These pages on Synthetic Turf are based on research and analysis completed in May 2015 by Kendall Garden [Lehigh ’16] and Peter Crownfield. Contact us by email.
[updated 19 May 2015]