Life cycle management

Have you considered the management needs and lifecycle cost of the playing surface?

Life cycle costing is a key asset management tool that takes into account the whole life implications of planning, acquiring, operating, maintaining and disposing of an asset.

The process is an evaluation method that considers all ownership and management costs.

These include:

  • Concept and definition
  • Design and development
  • Manufacturing and installation
  • Maintenance and replacement
  • Support services
  • Retirement, remediation and disposal costs.

There are four primary principles to consider when assessing life cycle costs:

  • Recognise that a facility development project begins at the concept and pre-planning stage and is complete when the asset is sold or the site returned to its original condition;
  • Examine the full cost of each project component across the life of a project rather than choose the cheapest option. This may mean a higher initial outlay but lead to reduced ongoing operational, maintenance and disposal costs and a net lower total ownership cost;
  • Life cycle costings consider all of the economic and financial costs associated with constructing, procuring and operating a facility at a level for which it was originally planned; and
  • Developing a life cycle cost analysis is an intrinsic part of your overall asset management strategy.

Life cycle costing will help you to get the most out of your facility by making sure construction, redevelopment, or asset replacement is achieved at the lowest “whole of life”cycle cost. Life cycle cost analysis may mean you trade higher initial construction or plant costs for lower future operating costs. The Department of Sport and Recreation has a comprehensive resource tool that enables facility developers to develop life cycle cost reports and understand the full cost impact of owning and managing a facility and should be followed when assessing the life cycle costs of natural grass and synthetic turf options.

For the purposes of this decision making guideline, a series of capital, operating and replacement costs have been prepared for each of the sports included in the scope of this study namely:

  • AFL/Cricket
  • Bowls
  • Hockey
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

In terms of construction costs a comparison was made between various standards of natural grass and synthetic turf suitable for community and elite level sporting activity. Comprehensive cost estimate calculations have been prepared and based on 2011 cost estimates show that the costs to construct synthetic turf facilities are significantly higher in all sports studied and in some cases are more than five times the cost.

Although the common perception is that synthetic turf requires limited maintenance and hence operating costs, this is not necessarily the case.  

Many synthetic turf surfaces require significant levels of maintenance and in some cases higher levels of maintenance in comparison to natural grass alternatives. The cost of the maintenance equipment is a substantial contributor to the operating cost, although it could be spread across multiple venues.

Unlike natural grass, synthetic turf must be replaced at the end of its useful life. This varies from sport to sport and the timeframe in which it is replaced is dependent on a number of factors. These include the level of usage, level and type of maintenance undertaken on the surface, weather conditions and the performance requirements expected from the surface.

Comparison of annual operating costs to maintain natural grass (community level) and synthetic turf


Natural grass (community)

Synthetic turf






$10,000 (sand filled)

Lawn Bowls











Please note that these figures are indicative only and should not be used in place of a proper quote or quantity surveyor estimate.

More information

Chapter 10 of the Natural Grass vs. Synthetic Turf Surfaces Study Final Report

Next step

Summary - Decision time


The information in this guide was published in 2011 and cannot be relied upon as professional advice concerning the decision as to natural grass v synthetic turf. No assurance is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in this guide and readers should seek more up to date information prior to making a decision. Readers should obtain their own independent and professional advice in relation to their project.