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Academy Sports Turf scored on the field at Super Bowl XLVII

Paul Kelley of Academy Sports Turf on the field that he installed at Elk Ridge Park in Castle Pines.

By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Denise Kelley

When Paul Kelley of Castle Pines and Mike Hartwell of Littleton were mowing lawns at sixteen years old, they couldn’t have imagined they would play a key role in making the Superdome field in New Orleans perfect for Super Bowl XLVII.

It all started when, at seventeen years old, the pair decided they wanted to run their own business and got their first contract mowing lawns. While putting themselves through college, they launched H & K Landscape, then moved into installing synthetic putting greens in local backyards.

They established Academy Sports Turf (AST) in 2000 and beat out two big players in the industry to win the bid for Douglas County High School’s sports field in 2003, their first field. Since then, AST has installed synthetic fields at every high school in Douglas County and even their alma mater, John F. Kennedy high school in Denver. They recently installed turf at Elk Ridge Park and DCS Montessori here in Castle Pines and have completed many fields outside of Colorado too.

The Superdome posed an especially tricky challenge as AST’s crew had to make sure the field was absolutely perfect not only for playing football, but also for TV. Kelley explains, “CBS TV wanted us to take away the sheen of the field (due to the lights) so we filled the field with rubber pellets which lift the ‘blades of grass’ reducing sheen. The infill does change the surface of the field and makes it more soft which can affect play.” AST had to balance the surface requirements of the NFL with their task of removing the sheen of synthetic grass. “For three weeks, Academy Sports Turf worked non-stop in New Orleans to make the Super Bowl’s turf as good as it can get. We’re proud it turned out as good as we could have hoped.”

Despite scoring the “super bowl” of turf installations, Kelley is humble and states, “As a company, we love doing the turf for all the local schools and being part of the community.”

For more information about Academy Sports Turf, visit www.academysportsturf.com.

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