New Sports Field in Conshohocken Provides Boon to Montco Economy
The Proving Grounds – Conshohocken’s newest facility for field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse – is often the site of local pick-up games after work, according to Kimberly Lyman, Sports Facility Coordinator.
These informal competitions are a popular means for local professionals to blow off steam and get some exercise, and the hours from 5–11:30 PM can be extremely busy. But there’s no need for Lyman to stick around after hours to power down the massive lights.
“I turn them off from my phone,” she said. “So yes, there’s an app for that.”
The Proving Grounds has become a boon to the marketing and direct sales efforts of the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board, which leverages its Valley Forge Sports platform to bring tournaments to Montgomery County.
This year alone, the initiative has produced nearly 50,000 room nights, a 23 percent increase from 2015, resulting in $20 million in economic impact.
The Proving Grounds is one of 18 Montgomery County sports facilities promoted by Valley Forge Sports, highlighting competitions from basketball to bowling.
Paul Tornetta, Proving Grounds’ CEO, is understandably proud of the field used by the Villanova women’s field hockey team. It resulted in part from a $1.3 million gift from parents and friends of student athletes at the university.
“This field is the only one in the country certified by the International Hockey Federation,” Tornetta said. “The donation represents the largest ever made to Villanova’s women’s athletics program.”
Tornetta describes the meticulous detail that went into creating the field and the high-tech advantages that were designed into it.
“The surface is a very short, synthetic turf fiber,” he said. “It’s the same product used at both the Beijing and Rio Olympic Games. It has been laid on a three-quarter-inch foam, similar to what’s used on a track for competitive running. Under that is a foundation of porous asphalt laid with a laser paver. It is pool-table flat. The goal was to provide a surface that was flat, fast, and true – and we accomplished that.”
In addition to the app that can remotely control the lights is a robotic watering system that rises from the sidelines to coat the entire field.
The high-tech Villanova field hockey field is augmented by four traditional fields that opened in phases beginning in 2013. Another four fields will be added over time, into 2018. The land repurposes the former site of the Allenwood Steel Plant.
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