Paso Robles High School junior Nathan Garcia gave the artificial turf field at newly renovated War Memorial Stadium at Flamson Middle School a glowing review after getting the chance to run on it for the first time Tuesday during the football team’s spring game.
“It is actually really comfortable,” said Garcia, a middle linebacker, while standing on the sideline. “When you put your foot into the ground, it’s real stiff, easy to make a cut, easy to be explosive.”
Paso Robles High will became the first SLO County high school to host games on an artificial turf playing surface as an alternative to grass, joining a growing trend across California. The innovative $1.8-million project completed by Hellas Construction, the same turf provider of the Dallas Cowboys, was unveiled to hundreds during a ceremony before the spring game. The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District has also started construction on another artificial turf practice field at Paso Robles High School.
“Obviously, we are in a water crisis, so knowing that, the two fields will actually save us 7 million gallons of water a year,” district superintendent Chris Williams said, adding the savings will be around $30,000 to $40,000 per year at War Memorial Stadium.
The new fields will still require about 700,000 gallons of water to maintain, Williams said.
The project, which began right after the 2016 football season, involved laying 88,000 square feet of turf over stone, gravel and padding. The infill spread over the top of the turf is made up of a recyclable mix of organic cork and coconut fibers. Williams said the field should last a minimum of 10 to 12 years, but he is hoping for a longer lifespan.
“A rubber shredded tire field would have been much cheaper, but because of the potential issues with cancerous materials, we wanted to go with the top-notch field,” Williams said.
Tom Maas, owner of Pear Valley Winery, donated more than $1 million worth of equipment and labor to the project. The rest was funded by other donors and the PRJUSD Capital Facilities and Curricular Enhancement Expenditure Plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2015.
“Turf serves a great purpose for us,” PRJUSD athletic director Rich Clayton said. “24-7, 365 you can throw kids out there. Plus, it’s easy to maintain.”
The goal is to quadruple the current use of the field. The district expects the turf on the practice field to be ready by September.
The new field at War Memorial received the approval of new Paso Robles football head coach Larry Grant.
“I have played on many great fields, and this is by far one of the better ones,” said Grant, a former NFL player. “It’s fast. One thing about our kids is that we are excited to be able to showcase our speed every Friday night on this field.”
The first chance will be during the team’s first home game against Lemoore High on Aug. 25.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that Paso Robles High School and Flamson Middle School were the first schools in SLO County to install artificial turf playing fields. Santa Lucia Middle School in Cambria installed an artificial turf field last summer.