Volume 20 Issue 4 | June 15 - 21, 2007

Talking point

Soccer fields that’ll prevent the terrorists from win

By David Stanke

“Grass and Astroturf were the only options for a pre-9/11 world. But we need new ideas to meet the challenges of the new world.” With these words, Rudolph Giuliani returned to Lower Manhattan to introduce the Battery Park City Authority’s latest green initiative: a new bioengineered grass to solve the dilemma of the West Street sports fields.

“On 9/11, I saw the burning Twin Towers come crashing down on this field,” Giuliani said. “I know that we need a new grass for this new age, a durable, resilient grass — one which will not bend in the wind. Liberty Lawn is our first weapon in our War on Global Warming.”

The B.P.C.A., along with Halliturfton, a bioengineering conglomerate headquartered in Kansas, has just announced their plans to install Liberty Lawn on the West St. sports fields. Liberty Lawn is an all-American, bioengineered grass able to support the most demanding urban sporting environment.

The B.P.C.A. has been determinedly green in all of its policies for years. But on the local sports fields, some in the community feel that traditional grass fails to deliver a reliable sports surface. The fields are unused for months for recuperation of the grass. Many scheduled activities are cancelled when weather and overuse combine to create an organic — but definitely not green — mud bowl.

New York City has solved this problem on many athletic fields by installing synthetic turf. But while the city has compromised its green principles, the B.P.C.A. remained determined to fight the War on Global Warming — to stay the course.

Halliturfton selected genetic material from the most durable grasses across the United States to create a species able to endure the full force of urban athletics. Giuliani Bioengineering partnered with Halliturfton on this project. Battery Park City once again served as the backdrop for political photo-ops as Halliturfton introduced Liberty Lawn.

Liberty Lawn is a high-durability, hybrid grass able to withstand cleats for 24 hours every day, year around. You can use it in snow, in rain, and even covered in toxic dust. It also converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, just like old-fashioned grass. “We expect Liberty Lawn to be in use across the U.S. by 2008,” a Halliturfton spokesperson said. “From there, it will spread around the world, like weeds.”

Berny Sheriff, a former personal trainer of Giuliani and C.E.O. of Giuliani Bio, explained: “The toughest grasses on the planet are high in silica phytoliths. These grasses are quite hard, able even to cut through cloths and human flesh. We bioengineered these tougher species into small, attractive green blades indistinguishable from Kentucky Blue Grass, but far more durable.”

The audience, desperate for more playing time on the fields, hesitantly expressed concerns: “This grass won’t hurt our kids, will it?” Sheriff explained that a line of clothes by Hallisportin will provide children with all the protection they need to perform on Liberty Lawn. To concerns raised about the cost of athletic equipment, Sheriff responded, “Do you support your kids ... or not?”

A minority group of elitist organic gardeners from the local public plots pushed their own concerns. “If this Franken-grass escapes the fields, it could genetically alter our heritage plants. How can we stop it?” Halli-Tractor was on hand with a full line of equipment designed specifically for Liberty Lawn, while Halli-Chem presented products to both fertilize and destroy the grass. “We will fully control and contain the situation.”

An unidentified source within the B.P.C.A. tried to relieve the fears about the costs. “We were given 92 acres of waterfront Manhattan property to sell to developers. We charge high rents to everyone who moves in. Money is not an issue. Nobody needs to sacrifice anything.”

Michael “don’t call me Brownie” Brown, a new B.P.C.A. appointee, researched options for the field. “We have done our intelligence,” he said. “It’s a slam dunk ... that we will be able to sell this plan to the local community!”

In response to concerns about the costs of Liberty Lawn, a spokesperson for the B.P.C.A. said “we don’t expect you to understand the complexities. That’s our job. We are the investigaterors and the deciderors. We solve problems that are too complicated for the democratic process.”

A local politician struggled to clarify his position. “I’m definitely green,” he said. “I was always for grass, before I was for Astroturf. Based on what we knew at the time, I would still make that decision. But now, we know more and we have new choices. I am definitely for Liberty Lawn, as long as it works. Is Liberty Lawn green?”

In an official statement, the B.P.C.A. explained: “We solve problems that no one else in the world even has. We are not burdened with the need to build consensus. We are not limited by the laws of physics or nature.”

Rudy Giuliani concluded, placing Liberty Lawn in the context of a greater vision. “We begin in Battery Park City, and we will spread Liberty LawnTM around the world.”

And then, presumably, we will fertilize it for a long, long time.

David Stanke lives and writes in Down­town Manhattan. His e-mail is

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