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New turf on tap at Ralph

The field at Ralph Wilson Stadium will be torn up this month and replaced as part of Erie County's contract with the Buffalo Bills to provide upgrades to the facility. The Bills were waiting until after Jim Kelly's football camp, held last week, to replace the artificial turf.

The contract for the project went to a Cheektowaga-based company, A-Turf. Its founder, East Amhert's Jim Dobmeier, is a Bills season-ticket holder. The winning bid by A-Turf went for $178,000, according to county records, which was a bargain for the county. But A-Turf sees the project as being a big marketing boost for the company. This is the first NFL field installed by A-Turf, founded nine years ago. A-Turf has performed about 250 projects nationwide, including about 20 fields in Western New York. A-Turf did the fields at Canisius College. The Bills' current turf was installed in 2003 by a company called SRI Sports, which created the original Astroturf. (That company subsequently went out of business.) The Ralph Wilson Stadium project is 86,000 square feet, and the product to be installed is called Titan. Dobmeier says the field could last as long as 15 years, although some clients opt to replace it sooner. 

---Mark Gaughan

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