Halfway across the globe from the World Cup in South Africa, a soccer story in Vancouver is making headlines for reasons other than officiating. Vancouver's Empire Field Stadium has installed a sports field that used 346,000 pounds of crumb rubber made from tires, courtesy of Liberty Tire Recycling.
The field is now the largest installation of crumb rubber in all of British Columbia, and offers other benefits besides the reuse of 22,450 scrap tires.
This rubber serves as an additive to soil, improving drainage and providing a level of cushioning that can help prevent athlete injuries. As an artificial turf, this field will not need to be watered or treated with pesticides.
The field will be used for both a Canadian Football League team and the city's new Major League Soccer team that begins play in 2011.
Perhaps just as impressive as the recycled materials used in construction, Empire Field Stadium was built in just 111 days. That represents the shortest construction time in North American history for a stadium of more than 25,000 seating capacity.
The reason for the quick construction is that this is a "temporary" stadium, designed to house teams and fans while other facilities are renovated. After both teams vacate, the stadium will be dismantled and converted to a community playing field so Vancouver soccer players can play on the recycled rubber field without an MLS contract.
It's estimated that the playing surface and lighting will be valued at $2.8 million once the stadium is dismantled.
Liberty Tire Recycling handles more than 110 million tires annually. The company also specializes in rubber mulch for landscapes and playgrounds, and rubberized asphalt that reduces skidding and cracking of traditional roads.
Because tires are made largely of petroleum, they have many applications in recycling. The main challenge is that many of these recycled products require the tires to be shredded first, which requires additional infrastructure.