Riverbend Music Center goes Green…
...and will stay green with the RMC Amphitheater Turf® system installed this winter.
The Motz Group has just finished installing 120,000 square feet of RMC Amphitheater Turf® at Riverbend Music Center. The system installed at Riverbend includes a premium monofilament fiber coupled with Envirofill® acrylic coated sand. This combination provides the look and feel of a perfectly manicured natural lawn.
Music in the mud? Not with this grass
Riverbend lawn goes artificial
Article written by Cincinnati Enquirer’s Cliff Radel
link to article can be found HERE.
Riverbend’s lawn just turned green. Thanks goes not to winter’s warm weather, but to the wonders of science.
And the generosity of the late Patricia Corbett.
With Corbett’s funds paying for state-the-art technology, the amphitheater on the Ohio has become the world’s first concert venue of its size to cover its lawn – all 2.75 acres – with artificial grass.
This development marks another milestone at the bend in the river where millions of Greater Cincinnatians have traditionally gone to have fun, reminisce and be a kid again for 126 years.
This piece of sacred ground began its history as a destination for enjoyment when the Coney Island amusement park opened on June 21, 1886.
That tradition expanded in 1984, with Riverbend opening as the summer home of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops orchestras, as well as the place to see top internationally known touring acts.
Riverbend’s ticket sales annually place the venue among the world’s top 10 amphitheaters
The facility’s elaborate $750,000 system of turf, rock and drains has been in the planning stages for five years.
Installed over the last 10 weeks, the lawn is ready for the 2012 season-opener: Brad Paisley with The Band Perry & Scotty McCreery, on May 20.
At that show, concertgoers will encounter a lawn consisting of five layers: 120,000 square feet of non-flammable plastic turf; 660,000 pounds of non-toxic, acrylic-coated, round-grained, bacteria-resistant sand; two layers of crushed limestone; and 1.04 miles of drainage pipe.
The reasons behind this groundbreaking move:
Reduce Riverbend’s carbon footprint. It eliminates the need for fertilizers, pesticides, weed-killers and gas-powered lawn mowers.
Save money. The lawn’s grass surface annually consumed 600,000 gallons of water for irrigation and $90,000 for replacement rolls of sod.
Sell more tickets. Projections call for a 10 percent jump in lawn ticket sales.
Extend the amphitheater’s brand. Riverbend plans to market the system to outdoor concert venues around the world.
Ramp up the fun factor for people who sit, stand and dance on the lawn.
“People are finally going to be able to enjoy a sold-out show on the lawn, without worrying about it turning to mud if it rains,” said Mike Smith, Riverbend’s longtime general manager and a vice president with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the amphitheater’s owner.
Zach Burns slid and slipped his way through the slop on the muddy lawn at several rained-soaked Riverbend shows. Since the facility’s 1984 opening, tens of thousands of lawn patrons have watched the space become a mud pit during concerts by Jimmy Buffett and the Dave Matthews Band. Tons of straw were placed over the goop.
“That did not make for a very inviting experience,” Burns said. He remembered one concert “where people were pulling up the sod and throwing it around. That tore me up.”
Burns has strong feelings about sod. He’s president of the Motz Group. The Newtown company installs playing surfaces, sod and synthetic, in stadiums all over the world.
Along with USGreentech, another Newtown firm, the Motz Group laid the carpet and foundation for Riverbend’s new lawn.
State-of-the-art turf will have its own brand name, too
The amphitheater’s synthetic turf will soon have its own brand name, either Riverbend Concert Turf or RMC Amphitheater Turf. (RMC stands for Riverbend Music Center.)
“Since the wear and tear on grass is a concern at all amphitheaters,” Smith said, “we expect to hear from lots of our colleagues in the industry as to how this works.”
The top layer is made up of densely packed, 2-inch-tall blades of non-flammable plastic grass. The blades are shorter than lawn grass blades. They are close to the height of the frog-hair turf surrounding golf putting greens. Sections of the grass carpet are sewn together and held down by spikes.
Round, green, acrylic-coated grains of sand mined in Texas and called Envirofill are placed on the grass, as infill. There are 5.5 pounds of sand per square foot of synthetic turf. The sand’s coating is bacteria-, mildew- and mold-resistant. The grains’ round structure keeps the blades of turf standing at attention.
The roundness also acts as a cushion, preventing the sand from compacting. The base of the turf has millions of holes to let moisture drain, first through a 2-inch-thick layer of finely crushed Georgia limestone, then a 4-inch-thick layer of coarsely crushed limestone leading to a network of 10-inch drainpipes.
Unlike earlier generations of artificial turf, Riverbend’s synthetic grass is completely recyclable. Older turf used pellets, called crumb rubber, made from recycled car tires for its infill.
“Crumb rubber is flammable,” noted Adam Coleman, USGreentech division manager. “That could not be used at Riv-erbend.”
And foot traffic over the pellets creates static electricity, causing them to stick to shoes, pants and people. Riverbend’s sand infill, which USGreentech has installed on playing surfaces in stadiums in Europe and Australia, stays put.
Synthetic grass can get hot under broiling summer sun. Riverbend has installed a misting system to cool the turf.
“We can run the hoses 30 minutes before we open the gates,” Smith said. “That can drop the surface temperature 10 to 25 degrees and it will be dry in 10 minutes.”
Patricia Corbett, the arts angel of Cincinnati, is still at work
Riverbend’s turf could also go by this nickname: Pat’s Greener Grass.
Patricia Corbett’s philanthropic donations built Riverbend. One night, as she walked to her seat in the pavilion, named for her late husband, J. Ralph Corbett, she gazed at the lawn. “It’s so beautiful,” she remarked. “I wish more people would use it.”
Corbett died in 2008. “When she passed away, she left an endowment for Riverbend,” Smith said. “It is only to be used for improving the patrons’ quality of life. This improvement, the new lawn, is the kind of creative, innovative, unique thing that she always supported for the place she liked to call ‘my theater.’ ”
Her wish for more people to use Riv-erbend’s lawn may come true.
“We have conservatively projected a 10-percent increase in ticket sales,” Smith said. “This new lawn takes away the factor of people not going to a concert if it has rained.”
If those projections hold, Riverbend could jump a notch in the annual international ranking of amphitheaters. For 2011, Pollstar, a concert-industry bible, listed Riverbend in fourth place with 329,979 tickets sold. Only first-place DTE Energy Music Theatre, outside Detroit, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., and Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., sold more tickets. A 10-percent increase would put Riverbend in third place.
“Some people have said that in this economy this is a risky investment,” Smith said. “But thanks to Mrs. Corbett’s gift, a 10-percent increase in ticket sales on a lawn that has a 10-year lifespan will be an extremely wise business decision.”