Title:
Modular temporary fencing system for sports arenas
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular, temporary fencing system for sports arenas comprises a plurality of spike-footed poles and a plurality of mesh fencing panels. The poles each have four longitudinal “key-hole” slots, and opposite side ends of the mesh fencing panels are configured to fit in the slots. To delineate a sports playing field or arena, the side ends of the fencing panels are inserted into the key-hole slots, and the poles are partially inserted into the ground, with the fencing panels supported there between, according to the desired dimensions and shape of the playing field or arena. Further, the poles are composed of a polymer chosen so that the poles are rigid enough to support the fencing panels and to delineate the playing area, yet flexible enough so that when a player falls against the fence, the fence can bend substantially to the ground without injuring the player or breaking.



Inventors:
Trill, James D. (Northfield, MA, US)
Application Number:
09/904966
Publication Date:
01/17/2002
Filing Date:
07/13/2001
Assignee:
TRILL JAMES D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C19/06; E04H17/16; (IPC1-7): E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
FERGUSON, MICHAEL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & BONZAGNI, P.C. (Longmeadow, MA, US)
Claims:

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed is:



1. A modular fencing system for delineating a sports playing field comprising: a. a plurality of fence poles each comprising: i. a substantially flexible shaft composed of a polymer selected from the group consisting of polycarbonate and polypropylene, said shaft defining a plurality of longitudinal, radially tapering slots; ii. a ground insertion tip affixed to a first end of the shaft; and iii. a safety cap affixed to a second end of the longitudinal shaft; and b. a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels each comprising: i. a sheet of plastic mesh having first and second side ends and a mesh spacing selected to allow wind to pass through the sheet and to prevent players from catching fingers or other objects in the sheet, wherein the first and second side ends are folded back over and connected to the sheet to form first and second pockets, respectively; and ii. first and second rods respectively disposed in the first and second pockets, wherein the respective rods and pockets, in combination, are dimensioned to friction fit in the radially tapering slots of the fence poles, so that the fencing panels can be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles; whereby if a player falls against the fence poles or fencing panels, the poles and fencing panels bend without injuring the player or breaking, and return to an upright position when the player is no longer against the fence poles or fencing panels.

2. The modular fencing system of claim 1 further comprising a goal panel configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between two of the fence poles, said goal panel having a pocket with two spaced-apart upper flaps for accessing the pocket from outside the modular fencing system when the goal panel is in use; whereby when a ball enters the pocket, the ball can be retrieved from outside the fencing system by way of the flaps.

3. The modular fencing system of claim 1 wherein the fence poles are each about forty-five inches in length and the fencing panels are each about thirty-six inches in height.

4. The modular fencing system of claim 1 further comprising at least two gate panels for facilitating entry into the playing field delineated by the fencing system, said gate panels being configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles, wherein the at least two gate panels each have a different width for facilitating entry by different groups of users.

5. A modular fencing system for delineating a sports playing field comprising: a. a plurality of fence poles configured to be partially inserted into the ground; and b. a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles; c. wherein the fence poles are substantially flexible, such that if a player falls against the fence poles or fencing panels, the poles bend without injuring the player or breaking, and return to an upright position when the player is no longer against the fence poles or fencing panels.

6. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein each fence pole has a ground insertion tip affixed to an end of the fence pole for facilitating inserting the pole into the ground.

7. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein each fence pole comprises: a. a shaft defining a plurality of longitudinal, radially tapering slots; and b. a ground insertion tip affixed to one end of the longitudinal shaft.

8. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein each fence pole has a safety cap affixed to an end of the fence pole that lies above the ground when the fence pole is partially inserted into the ground.

9. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein each of the fencing panels comprises a sheet of plastic mesh.

10. The modular fencing system of claim 9 wherein the sheet of plastic mesh has a mesh spacing selected to allow wind to pass through the sheet and to prevent players from catching fingers or other objects in the sheet.

11. The modular fencing system of claim 10 wherein the mesh spacing is selected from the group consisting of 9×9 spaces per inch mesh spacing and 10×10 spaces per inch mesh spacing.

12. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein the fence poles are composed of a polymer having a high flexural modulus and a high tensile strength.

13. The modular fencing system of claim 12 wherein the polymer is selected from the group consisting of polycarbonate and polypropylene.

14. The modular fencing system of claim 5 further comprising a goal panel configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between two of the fence poles and having a pocket with two spaced-apart upper flaps for accessing the pocket from outside the modular fencing system when the goal panel is in use; whereby when a ball enters the pocket, the ball can be retrieved from outside the fencing system by way of the flaps.

15. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein each of the fence poles has an axial through-bore for facilitating attachment of a top safety cap and/or a ground insertion tip.

16. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein the fence poles are each about forty-five inches in length and the fencing panels are each about thirty-six inches in height.

17. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein the fencing panels are each provided with a plurality of grommets along bottom edges of the fencing panels, for facilitating temporary attachment of the bottom edges of the fencing panels to the ground via the use of stakes.

18. The modular fencing system of claim 5 wherein: a. each fence pole comprises a shaft defining a plurality of longitudinal, radially tapering slots; and b. the fencing panels each comprise: i. a sheet of plastic mesh having first and second side ends that are folded back over and connected to the sheet to form first and second pockets, respectively; and ii. first and second rods respectively disposed in the first and second pockets, wherein the respective rods and pockets, in combination, are dimensioned to friction fit in the radially tapering slots of the fence poles, so that the fencing panels can be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles.

19. The modular fencing system of claim 5 further comprising at least two gate panels for facilitating entry into the playing field delineated by the fencing system, said gate panels being configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles, wherein the at least two gate panels each have a different width for facilitating entry by different groups of users.

20. A modular fencing system for delineating a sports playing field comprising a plurality of fence poles configured to be partially inserted into the ground and a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels, wherein the poles and fencing panels have complementary attachment means for removably affixing the fencing panels to the fence poles, such that the fencing panels can be disposed between and supported by the fence poles, and wherein the fence poles are substantially flexible, such that if a player falls against the fence poles or fencing panels, the poles bend without injuring the player or breaking, and return to an upright position when the player is no longer against the fence poles or fencing panels.

21. A fence comprising: a. a plurality of spaced-apart fence poles each partially inserted into the ground; and b. a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels each removably affixed to and disposed between two of the fence poles; c. wherein the fence poles are substantially flexible, such that if a player falls against the fence poles or fencing panels, the poles bend without injuring the player or breaking, and return to an upright position when the player is no longer against the fence poles or fencing panels.

22. The fence of claim 21 wherein each fence pole comprises a shaft composed of a polymer selected from the group consisting of polycarbonate and polypropylene.

23. The fence of claim 21 wherein: a. each fence pole comprises a shaft composed of a polymer selected from the group consisting of polycarbonate and polypropylene, said shaft defining a plurality of longitudinal, radially tapering slots; and b. the fencing panels each comprise: i. a sheet of plastic mesh having first and second side ends that are folded back over and connected to the sheet to form first and second pockets, respectively; and ii. first and second rods respectively disposed in the first and second pockets, wherein the respective rods and pockets, in combination, are dimensioned to friction fit in the radially tapering slots of the fence poles.

24. A modular fencing system for delineating a sports playing field comprising: a. a plurality of fence poles each comprising: i. a shaft defining a plurality of longitudinal, radially tapering slots; and ii. a ground insertion tip affixed to one end of the shaft; and b. a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels each having first and second side ends configured to press fit in the radially tapering slots of the fence poles; whereby for delineating a sports playing field the poles are partially inserted into the ground by way of the ground insertion tips, and the fencing panels are disposed between the poles by way of the first and second side ends of each fencing panel being respectively longitudinally inserted into two of the radially tapering slots of two of the poles, according to a desired playing field configuration.

25. The modular fencing system of claim 24 wherein the first and second ends of the fencing panels each comprise: a. a pocket; and b. a rod disposed in the pocket, wherein the rod and pocket, in combination, are dimensioned to press fit in the radially tapering slots of the fence posts, such that the ends of the fencing panels cannot be radially removed from the radially tapering slots of the fence posts, once longitudinally inserted therein.

26. A modular fencing system comprising: a. a plurality of fence poles configured to be partially inserted into the ground; b. a plurality of non-rigid fencing panels configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles; and c. at least two gate panels for facilitating entry into a playing field delineated by the fencing system, said gate panels being configured to be removably affixed to and disposed between the fence poles, wherein the at least two gate panels each have a different width for facilitating entry by different groups of users.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of a Provisional Application, Serial No. 60/218,186, filed Jul. 14, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to sports equipment, and, more particularly, to fencing for sports arenas.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Field sports like soccer are typically played on large, grassy fields, with the playing area being delineated by permanent or semi-permanent boundary markings and, depending on the particular sport, by large, permanently installed or “semi-portable” goals constructed out of metal tubing or wood poles. Frequently, especially in rural areas, such playing fields are only used for one purpose, namely, for playing field sports.

[0004] In urban areas, large, open fields of grass are relatively scarce, and what few there are, such as those in public parks, must be used for multiple purposes, making it impracticable to tie up large sections of grass for extended periods, and/or to install permanent fixtures such as goal posts. Additionally, many urban areas (e.g., inner city neighborhoods) may not even have grassy areas large enough to accommodate a large soccer field or the like. Furthermore, in some areas, like beaches or dirt lots, it may be very difficult to mark the desired boundaries of the playing field.

[0005] Large, dedicated playing fields are also disadvantageous in that the size of the playing field cannot be easily adjusted, making them all but useless for non-traditional field sports (e.g., sports requiring different boundary lines), or for those for whom playing on a large playing field is unfeasible, like small children.

[0006] Further, while modular fences have long existed, and although various modular, portable sports arenas have been proposed over the years, these typically have rigid fence panels and/or fence poles. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,004,218 to Keating et al. relates to a portable hockey rink having rigid side boards, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,868 to Shea relates to a portable silt fence that uses steel rebar for holding up the fence panels. Such characteristics render these fencing systems less than ideal, in terms of player safety, for sports where the players may come into contact with the fencing and/or where the players do not typically wear much protective gear.

[0007] Accordingly, a primary object of the present invention is to provide a modular, temporary fencing system for delineating sports playing fields or arenas on fields, beaches, dirt lots, or the like.

[0008] Another primary object of the present invention is to provide a modular, temporary fencing system wherein the fencing poles and panels, while rigid enough to properly delineate the playing area, are substantially flexible, so that if a player comes into contact with the fence (e.g., falls or is pushed against it), the fence bends.

[0009] Another object of the present invention is to provide a modular fencing system for sports arenas that is easy to store and transport, easy to assemble, and easy to disassemble.

[0010] Another object of the present invention is to provide a modular fencing system that can be easily reconfigured for use by different groups of users.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] A modular, temporary fencing system for sports arenas comprises a plurality of spike-footed poles and a plurality of rectangular, mesh fencing panels. The poles are each provided with four longitudinal “key-hole” slots, and opposite side ends of the mesh fencing panels are configured to fit in the key-hole slots. To delineate a sports playing field or arena, each fencing panel is held by and between two of the poles subsequent to the side ends of the fencing panels being longitudinally inserted into the poles' key-hole slots. Then, the poles are vertically partially inserted into the ground, with the fencing panels supported there between, according to the desired dimensions and shape of the playing field or arena. Additionally, some of the mesh fencing panels may be provided with special features, such as collapsible, built-in goals for games such as soccer.

[0012] Further, the poles are composed of a polymer material, e.g., a polycarbonate or polypropylene, selected to provide a balance between flexibility and rigidity. That is, the plastic material is chosen so that the poles: (i) are rigid enough to support the fencing panels and to delineate the playing area; and (ii) are flexible enough so that when a player falls against the fence, the fence can bend substantially to the ground without injuring the player or breaking. Additionally, the mesh spacing of the mesh fencing panels is chosen to cut down on wind resistance (e.g., so that wind does not significantly push against the fencing panels, causing the poles to bend), and to reduce the chances of a player having an extremity (fingers, etc.) caught therein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with respect to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings, in which:

[0014] FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a key-slotted pole;

[0015] FIG. 1B is a plan view of the key-slotted pole;

[0016] FIGS. 1C and 1D are side and plan views of a metal tip, respectively;

[0017] FIG. 1E is a perspective view of an end cap for the key-slotted pole;

[0018] FIG. 2A is an elevation view of a mesh fencing panel;

[0019] FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of a side end of the mesh fencing panel including a retaining rod insert;

[0020] FIG. 2C is a detail view of the mesh in the mesh fencing panel;

[0021] FIG. 3A is a cross-sectional view of the key-slotted pole with the side end of the mesh fencing panel lying in one of the pole's key hole-shaped slots;

[0022] FIG. 3B is a perspective view of a fencing panel and two poles operably connected to form a free-standing fence;

[0023] FIG. 4A is a perspective view of a tri-bladed metal tip;

[0024] FIG. 4B is a perspective view of a pole receptacle;

[0025] FIG. 5A is a perspective view of a goal fencing panel;

[0026] FIG. 5B is an elevation view of a first gate panel;

[0027] FIG. 5C is a perspective view of a second gate panel;

[0028] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention; and

[0029] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0030] Turning now to FIGS. 1A-5C, preferred embodiments of a modular, temporary fencing system for sports arenas, according to the present invention, will now be given. The fencing system comprises a plurality of poles 20 and fencing panels 22. The poles 20 are each provided with four longitudinal “key-hole” slots 24a-24d, and opposite side ends 26a, 26b of the fencing panels 22 are configured to slide into the key-hole slots 24a-24d. To form a sports arena or delineate a sports playing area, each fencing panel 22 is disposed between two of the poles 20, with the side ends 26a, 26b of the fencing panels being longitudinally inserted into two of the poles' key-hole slots 24a-24d. Subsequently, the poles 20 are vertically partially inserted into the ground, with the fencing panels 22 supported there between, according to the desired dimensions and shape of the playing field or arena.

[0031] FIGS. 1A and 1B show one of the poles 20. The pole 20 comprises a generally cylindrical, longitudinal shaft 28 having the four radially tapering slots 24a-24d extending at least partially down the length thereof. As best seen in FIG. 1B, the slots 24a-24d are key-hole shaped, and, therefore, taper in a radial direction (that is, an inner portion 25a of each slot is wider than an outer portion 25b extending radially away therefrom through to the exterior surface of the shaft 28). The pole 20 can have one, two, three, or more slots 24a-24d, spaced around the pole 20 as desired, although typically it will be provided with four equidistantly spaced slots 24a-24d as shown in FIG. 1B. The pole 20 also has a central opening 29 in the form of an axial, cylindrical through-bore. Materials and manufacturing methods suitable for the poles 20 are discussed below.

[0032] As further discussed below, to erect the fencing system, the poles 20 must be temporarily vertically attached to the ground. For this purpose, one end of each pole 20 is outfitted with a metal tip 30 (see FIGS. 1C and 1D) for facilitating inserting the pole 20 into the ground. The metal tip 30 has a conical base and a cylindrical extension, which is dimensioned to friction fit in the pole's central opening 29. Such metal tips are available from the Four Roses Company of Woolrich, Penn. Additionally, the metal tip 30 may be adhered to the pole 20, and/or attached via an internal bolt, pin, screw, or the like, to ensure that the tips do not loosen when inserted into the ground. As should be appreciated, there are numerous different types of tips with which the poles 20 could be supplied. For example, the poles 20 could be provided with a screw-shaped, “twist in” metal end (not shown) for lawn or beach use, or a tri-bladed metal tip 32 (like a tent stake) as shown in FIG. 4A.

[0033] In many sports, players will often come into contact with a boundary fence. For example, a player may fall into the fence, or be pushed into the fence. If the fence is rigid, this can result in substantial injury. Accordingly, the poles 20 are flexible, such that if a player falls or is pushed against the fence, the poles 20 will bend or flex (to the ground, or thereabouts, if need be). This will significantly reduce the chances of the player being injured, and will actually cushion the player's fall. At the same time, the poles 20 are rigid and strong enough: (i) to hold the mesh panels 22 perpendicular to the ground; (ii) to not break, splinter, crack, warp, or lose their shape upon being bent or flexed; and (iii) to return to their upright, original position or location when the load (player) is removed. Additionally, the poles are shatter and impact resistant, resist crimping, and are able to withstand significant temperature ranges while maintaining the above-noted characteristics (e.g., typical climatic conditions from below freezing to well above 100° F.).

[0034] Various different polymers will provide an optimum combination of strength, flexibility, and durability for the poles 20. This is typically indicated by the polymer having a high flexural modulus (the ratio of stress to strain in flexural deformation) and a high tensile strength. Polycarbonate and polypropylene are two such polymers. Regarding the former, one suitable polycarbonate is grade PC-SRI-UV available from ARC Resin Corp. of Marietta, Ohio. This polycarbonate has the following typical mechanical properties: a 9,600 psi tensile break strength; a 9,000 psi yield tensile strength; and a 345,000 psi flexural modulus. For optimum mechanical properties, and for ease of manufacture, the polycarbonate material is extruded according to a conventional process, which can be carried out according the following typical processing conditions: a melt temperature of 600-650° F.; a mold temperature of 180-240° F.; and a drying/curing time of 3-4 hours at 245-255° F. For extrusion, a conventional die, configured to provide the pole profile shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, is used.

[0035] Additionally, one type of polypropylene suitable for the poles 20 is the Pro-fax™ SV258 medium impact polypropylene copolymer resin, available from Basell North America, Inc. of Wilmington, Del. (formerly Montell North America). This material can be extruded in a conventional manner, and has the following typical mechanical properties: a 4,000 psi yield tensile strength; and a 180,000 psi flexural modulus.

[0036] As indicated in FIG. 3B, the poles are provided with the metal tips 30 shown in FIGS. 1C and 1D, such that the poles 20 can be partially inserted into the ground for stability, as well as for taking full advantage of the safety features imparted by the poles' flexibility. In the case of a typical pole with a length of forty-five inches and a diameter of one-and-a-quarter inches (suitable for various sports like soccer), the poles are inserted a minimum of about eight inches into the ground. At this depth, the poles will be able to flex without disturbing the upper surface of the soil or grass, and will not come out of the ground when flexed.

[0037] Additionally, the poles 20 can be configured to lie above or touching the ground surface, with only the metal tips (e.g., such as the metal tip 32 shown in FIG. 4A) extending down into the ground and providing stability. However, the poles 20, in combination with the metal tips 30, 32, should still be able to flex and spring back to an upright position without the pole becoming dislodged from the ground, breaking, or becoming detached from the receptacle or metal tip.

[0038] Also, the poles 20 do not necessarily even have to be affixed to the metal ground insertion tips 30. For example, as shown in FIG. 4B, the fencing system can include a pole receptacle 34 for each pole 20, said receptacles 34 each having an upper retaining sleeve 36 with the metal tip 30 attached thereto. In such a case, the pole receptacles 34 would be inserted into the ground, and the pole shafts 28 would be simply inserted into the sleeves 36. The poles could be kept in place by gravity, or via any of a number of different temporary fastening means, such as through-bolts, cotter pins, or the like. It should be noted that the pole receptacles 34, as with the poles 20, could have any number of different ground insertion tips, in particular, screw-type ground insertion tips (not shown) for beach use. Also, in situations where the modular fencing system is to be affixed to a hard surface, such as concrete or asphalt, the receptacles 34 can be disposed in the surface, e.g., when the surface is first poured, of after the fact by way of appropriately shaped holes drilled into the surface. Additionally, the poles could simply be inserted into holes provided in the concrete or asphalt surface, or the poles could be provided with threaded, screw-like tips (not shown) configured to screw into complementary apertures provided in the surface. Again, it is preferable that the poles 20, in combination with the receptacles 34 (or other means for temporarily affixing the poles to the ground), should still be able to flex and spring back to an upright position without the pole becoming dislodged from the ground, breaking, or becoming detached from the receptacle, in the event a player falls against the poles.

[0039] The tops of the poles 20 may each be provided with a rubber or plastic plug 37, shown in FIG. 1E, which fits into the central opening 29. The plug acts as a safety cap, so that players are not injured if encountering the top edge of a pole, and also as a means for protecting the tops of the poles.

[0040] The poles 20 and/or the pole receptacles 34 can have additional features for facilitating insertion into the ground, besides the striking plate mentioned above. For example, radial extensions or wings 39 (see FIG. 4B) could be provided, against which a hammer or mallet could be struck to drive the pole or receptacle into the ground.

[0041] FIGS. 2A and 2B show the fencing panels 22. Each fencing panel 22 is a rectangular or square sheet 38 of thin, strong material, preferably resistant to water, rot, mildew, and UV radiation, such as vinyl-coated mesh PVC (e.g., 6.5 oz per square yard) or plastic netting. Also, the fencing panels 22 are non-rigid (i.e., flexible), so as to allow the fence to collapse should a player fall against a panel, and to allow the fencing panels to be folded or rolled up for storage or transportation. This flexibility also allow balls to rebound just slightly, dropping a few inches away from the panels, to ensure players can easily play without interference from the panels.

[0042] The weave or mesh spacing of the mesh panels is chosen to be coarse (i.e., open) enough to allow for the passage of wind through the fencing panels—minor bending due to wind is tolerable, but not so much as would diminish the intended functionality of the fencing system. However, the mesh spacing should also be fine enough to prevent players from catching their fingers, cleats, or other extremities in the fencing panels. FIG. 2C shows a suitable, relatively fine, 9×9 or 10×10 (openings per inch) mesh pattern.

[0043] Regarding height, the panels 22 are typically the same height as the portions of the poles 20 that lie above the ground when the poles 20 are affixed to the ground. As discussed above, this depends on the particular type of ground insertion tip used and other factors. For many sports, like soccer, a mesh panel height of three feet is sufficient, since it will keep the ball in bounds while allowing spectators to view the action. This height also encourages players to keep the ball low, thereby reducing head or face injuries from high kicked balls.

[0044] To manufacture the panels 22, raw sheets of material are cut out according to the desired dimensions, and the top and bottom one inch or so of each raw sheet is turned and stitched to form sturdy top and bottom borders. The side edges of the raw sheet are also turned and stitched to form a linear pocket 40 as shown in FIG. 2B, a bottom end of which is sewn up. Subsequently, a rod 42 (made of plastic or any other suitable material), dimensioned to fit within and along the length of the pocket 40, is inserted into each pocket 40. Then, the top end of the pocket 40 may be sewn closed or not, as desired.

[0045] Additionally, each panel 22 has one or more triangular flaps 44 sewn to its base edge. Each flap 44 has a grommet through which a ground peg 46 is inserted. The ground pegs 46 are U-shaped, which helps ensure the ground pegs stay in the ground. The flaps 44 and ground pegs 46 enable the panels 22 to be secured to the ground, to enhance fence stability and prevent balls from slipping under the mesh.

[0046] Turning now to FIG. 3A, for temporarily attaching the panels 22 to the poles 20, the side ends 26a, 26b of the panels 22 are simply longitudinally slipped into the slots 24a-24d, with the sheeting 38 extending out through the narrow portions 25b of the slots. As should be appreciated, in order to prevent the panels 22 from being radially removed from the slots, the ends 26a, 26b of the panels 22 (e.g., the pockets 40 with rods 42 disposed therein) are narrow enough to fit within the wide portions 25a of the slots 24a-24d but wide enough to not pass through the narrow portions 25b of the slots. In fact, the sheeting 38 helps create a press or friction fit for the side ends of the fencing panels 22 within the slots 24a-24d, further preventing the panels 22 from being radially removed from the slots. Additionally, because of the press fit, and because the sheeting 38 functionally extends into the slot, around the rod 42 (itself too large to be radially removed from the slot), and back out the slot, it is very difficult for the sheeting 38 to be torn away from the rod or removed from the slot. For example, with the sheeting extending around the rod and press fit into the slot, it would be very difficult to pull the sheeting out of the slot even if the sheeting was not sewn or stitched back upon itself.

[0047] FIG. 3B shows the fencing system in use. There, one of the panels 22 is disposed between and supported by two of the poles 20, which are partially inserted into the ground (as indicated by the dashed lower portions of the poles 20, for support. This can be done by using a striking plate (not shown), which protects the poles 20) in conjunction with a hammer or mallet. The opposite side edges 26a, 26b of the panel 22 lie within facing slots 24b, 24d of the two poles 20, respectively, after having been longitudinally inserted therein during assembly. To construct a temporary arena or delineate a playing field, additional poles and panels are attached in a like manner (e.g., side ends of the panels are inserted into the pole slots and the poles are partially inserted into the ground) according to whatever size or shape of playing field or arena is desired. In particular, the fencing system can be used to construct relatively small arenas for use in urban areas and is particularly suitable for games like field hockey and short soccer. As should be appreciated, the panels and poles can be of any height as desired, though for many applications (soccer, for example) they only need to be about three feet (one meter) or so in height, as mentioned above.

[0048] Specialized fencing panels may also be provided. For example, FIG. 5A shows a “goal” panel 50, wherein a goal pocket 52 extends beyond the perimeter of the fencing system. Two such goal panels 50 can be disposed at opposite ends of a temporary arena, constructed according to the present invention, for games like soccer. The goal panel 50 comprises side ends 26a, 26b like those of the regular panels 22, with an upper mesh panel 54 extending there between. A gusseted back portion forms the pocket 52, and comprises two triangular, side mesh panels 56a, 56b attached to the side ends 26a, 26b and oriented perpendicular to the upper mesh panel 54. A back mesh panel 58 is attached along its upper edge to the upper mesh panel 54, and along its side edges to rear edges of the side mesh panels 56a, 56b. Two square flaps 60a, 60b are provided in the back panel 58 for ball removal. The pocket 52 can be unsupported, or the rear side of the back mesh panel 58 can be staked to the ground back away from the perimeter of the fence to better define the pocket, e.g., as shown in FIG. 5A. Alternatively, the junctions of the side mesh panels 56a, 56b and back mesh panel 58 can be provided with plastic support rods sewn into the material, in which case the pocket will be free standing. Other types of goal panels are possible, for example, the goal opening could be positioned above the ground, or only partway across the panel.

[0049] FIG. 5B shows a gate panel 70 comprising first and second sections 72, 74 of fencing panel selectively re-attachable via complementary hook-and-loop fabric fasteners 76. Buttons, zippers, or the like can be used in place of the hook-and-loop fabric. When the two sections 72, 74 are attached to one another, the gate panel 70 acts as one of the fencing panels 22. However, the two sections can be detached to allow players to easily enter and exit the sports arena.

[0050] As should be appreciated, since the fencing system is modular, different sizes or types of gate panels can easily be provided, so as to facilitate use by different groups of users, e.g., persons with special needs. This can be done “on the fly,” depending on the particular group of people using the arena or playing field at the time. Thus, different sizes or types of gate panels may be provided with the poles 20 and fencing panels 22. To facilitate this, as shown in FIG. 5C, one very narrow gate section 78 may be provided, along with a number of other gate sections (similar to the sections 72 or 74 shown in FIG. 5B), having varying widths.

[0051] Although the fencing system according to the present invention has been illustrated as having certain configurations and/or features, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that additional configurations and/or features could be used or provided instead without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, instead of having a circular radial cross section, the poles could be square (or any other shape), and instead of being key-hole shaped, the slots could be triangular or another tapered shape.

[0052] Furthermore, the panels could be temporarily attachable to the poles in a manner other than the one shown in FIGS. 1A-5. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, the mesh sheets could be connected, at either side end, to retainer elements (like the triangular bar shown) which would fit into the pole slots, with the sheets extending out therefrom. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 7, the poles could be provided with quick-release buckles or the like instead of slots, with the mesh fencing panels being provided with hasps configured to be releasably held by the buckles.

[0053] While the fencing panels of the present invention have been illustrated as comprising a fine vinyl mesh, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other materials could be used instead without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, plastic sheeting (e.g., solid vinyl) and fabric are both suitable.

[0054] Although the ground insertion tips have been illustrated as being made of metal, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the tips could be made of other materials, such as high-impact plastic, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0055] Further, although the fence poles have been illustrated as comprising polycarbonate or polypropylene, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other materials could be used for the poles, according to the teachings set forth above, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0056] Since certain changes may be made in the above described modular, temporary fencing system for sports arenas, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention herein involved, it is intended that all of the subject matter of the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted merely as examples illustrating the inventive concept herein and shall not be construed as limiting the invention.