(Portland, OR) –
From Portland Parks & Recreation and Portland Public Schools:
Portland Parks & Recreation’s Grant Bowl (multipurpose synthetic athletic field) is a treasured community space. We are therefore very sad to share that it has reached a point where it is no longer safe for athletics.
And because safety is a key priority of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), this means permits cannot be issued for the space. PP&R will work with Portland Public Schools (PPS) to find alternative practice and competition spaces for Grant High School’s student athletes. The field remains open to the public (as an outside contractor failed the field for organized sport use).
Due to insufficient maintenance funding, one in five PP&R assets will fail over the next 15 years without new resources. PP&R’s current maintenance backlog is $600 million and has also resulted in the failure of Columbia Pool and light poles in several neighborhood parks. The Bureau remains committed to its Sustainable Future Initiative, instituted in 2019, to secure the resources needed to deliver the parks system Portland deserves.
The turf at Grant Bowl was installed in September 2013. It had an 8-10 year expected lifespan and came with a three-year warranty. Between the community and Grant athletics, usage has been particularly heavy.
Grant Bowl is part of the community’s parks system that PP&R works to maintain. To ensure the Grant Bowl remained safe as it neared the end of its lifespan, PP&R contracted an outside firm specializing in sports turf maintenance and testing. After the field failed its first test by this firm (November 2022), PP&R followed up with thorough maintenance. This was, unfortunately, not enough: the field again failed a second professionally administered test in December 2022. PP&R notified PPS, and both parties collaborated to restore the field further.
The professional synthetic turf contractor recommended PP&R add more crumb rubber fill to help increase the field’s cushioning; this effort was completed after the rainy season ended, per industry standards (May 2023). (The last time PP&R added crumb rubber fill to the field was in 2018, in line with professional recommendations.) Despite this addition, the field failed a third safety test in May 2023.
PP&R issued PPS a Non-Parks Use Permit on August 9 to repair the Grant Bowl's artificial turf. The repair was done August 10, followed by another safety test by an external vendor. Unfortunately, the field again failed the test, and PPS deemed it unsafe for Grant's student-athletes.
Director, Portland Parks & Recreation
Chief of Staff
Portland Public Schools