Legal action might be taken if no rebid

By Amy Goldhagen and Ken Goze

A losing company in the bid to replace NIU and Illinois State University’s stadium turf will take legal action if the Board of Regents refuses to rebid the project.

Safe Play, which submitted the lowest of four bids, charges that the board’s selection process unfairly eliminated their product, Super Turf, from consideration.

“NIU has to award the contract to us. We are the lowest, most qualified bidder. If we get this into court, we’re going to embarrass a lot of people,” said Safe Play President Bill Paschal.

The specifications were drafted specifically for knitted products which only Astro Turf, the company awarded the contract, offers, Paschal said.

Pascal said he wants NIU to rewrite its specifications and rebid the project so Safe Play gets a fair chance.

Board Chancellor Roderick Groves said by contracting the NIU and ISU fields together, the board saved almost $120,000. But with Super Turf, Paschal said the board could have saved more than $400,000.

“It’s not Grove’s fault, but it is his responsibility. When he sees such a blatant misuse of funds he should make some heads roll,” Paschal said.

“NIU’s specifications were written specifically for Astro Turf by people who obviously know very little about stadium turf,” Paschal said.

“As far as I can see, Super Turf has no basis for a lawsuit,” said NIU Materials Management Director Don Widick.

Widdick said there are three companies which would have met NIU’s specifications and Astro Turf was selected because they submitted the lowest bid.

Super Turf is higher quality than Astro Turf, Paschal said. “It will outlast Astro Turf by one third,” he said.

“Super Turf is installed in more than 250 stadiums around the world, second only to Astro Turf,” Paschal said.

Super Turf provides playing surfaces for Ohio State University, University of Iowa, the San Francisco 49ers and the 1984 Olympic facility in Los Angeles, Cal.

Mike Dolan, Ohio State athletic facilities superintedent, said Ohio State put both turfs through extensive testing and found them to be nearly equal. He said Ohio State chose Super Turf because any differences in the two was not enough to warrant the large price difference.

NIU Head Football Coach Jerry Pettibone said recent improvements in Astro Turf make comparisons with the older Super Turf fields impossible. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges,” he said.