Chula Vista is home to Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (CVOTC), the first U.S. Olympic Committee training center to be master-planned from the ground up. Chula Vista, located 7.5 miles south of San Diego and 7.5 miles north of the Mexican border, is a city of about 250,000 people.
The CVOTC is dedicated to the development and performance of America’s future Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The year-round, warm-weather facility was a gift to the U.S. Olympic Committee from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation, a group of dedicated business and community leaders and volunteers who raised the funds to build the center. It is one of three Olympic training centers in the U.S., the other two being in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York.
For the past eight years, the horticultural experts of Heaviland Landscape Management have maintained the beautiful 150-acre site that contains 1.2 million square feet of sports turf. They keep the fields in excellent and green condition from year to year with a program featuring annual overseeding and dethaching, and twice-a-year aeration, explains Oscar Hernandez, branch manager at Heaviland Landscape Management and a Landscape Industry Certified Technician.
Heaviland has six employees maintaining the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista full time, including a crew leader and an irrigation tech. They’re on the property every day, Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. through 2:30 p.m. Hernandez conducts a weekly walk-through with the crew leader and meets with the facilities managers when needed.
Heaviland handles all types of landscaping on the property, from ornamental turf, sports fields, planter beds and even a small orange grove that is on-site. There are native areas on the property, and the company preserves that landscape by providing cleanup when necessary.
On the sports fields, Heaviland crews alternate mow patterns to prevent mower wear marks on the fields. The company also uses a perennial ryegrass blend for the all fields in the winter, which keeps the fields in playable condition with good color while the bermudagrass is dormant. During the normal maintenance over the year, crews mow at a 3/4-inch height. During annual scalping, they take it down to 1/2 inch and then dethatch, aerate and over-seed. During this time irrigation management and fertilization is critical for seed germination.
The property has issues with white grubs, and because of that they have raccoons and different vermin that go looking for the grubs. Heaviland provides a maintenance treatment plan to combat the grubs and keep the animals away.
Another unique challenge is coordinating field maintenance with coaches to work around different training schedules and events. For example, if there’s a competition, the field can’t be too wet or too dry. The company has to balance work around their schedules. The site was definitely busier when the 2016 Olympics athletes were getting ready, so it took additional work to coordinate around the athletes’ training schedules.