Artificial Turf Will Replace Grass At Muir Field

The UCSD department of recreation made the recent decision to move forward with the installment of an artificial turf on Muir Field, an area located west of Main Gym and commonly used by UCSD sports teams. The installation process is expected to last until the end of Spring Quarter 2015.

The estimated total cost of the project is $2.15 million, which includes the pricing of new sports lighting and safety netting. The renovation also includes plans to remove some of the eucalyptus trees on the north side of the field.

The new, artificial turf will primarily be used by the UCSD men’s lacrosse team, the women’s lacrosse team and the field hockey team. Additional club sports teams will be able to use the field as needed.

Intramural sports will not have access to the field until Fall Quarter 2015, as the project will not be completed until the end of Spring Quarter 2015, and intramurals do not convene over the summer.

The university has considered replacing the natural grass on Muir Field for the past two years. According to UCSD Director of Recreation Dave Koch, the recreation department supported the change since the idea was first presented as a possibility.

“Recreation has been supportive of this change from the initial conversations regarding the change,” Koch told the UCSD Guardian.

Don Chadwick, director of facilities planning and management at the Office of the Vice Chancellor, explained that the decision to go through with the project was due in large part to the amount of wear and tear sustained by the field.

“The number of teams and related hours of play have exceeded the amount of wear and tear that the natural fields on campus can accommodate,” Chadwick told the Guardian. “When finished, we will be able to accommodate more hours of practice and competition.”

Koch added that the new field will benefit all teams and players at UCSD by providing a consistent surface to use when others are closed due to maintenance or rain.

“This will also allow us to practice and compete when we normally would have had to cancel due to rain or wet field conditions,” Koch said.

As a part of the project, several trees on the north end of the field will need to be removed, though trees on other parts of the field will remain. According to Chadwick, this is necessary for the field renovation’s completion because the trees were blocking sports lighting for the field. Work to cut them started on Jan. 28.

The school will also be receiving a rebate of $233,000 from SoCal WaterSmart Turf Removal Program meant to encourage the use of drought-tolerant options. The rebate brings the cost of the project down to $1.92 million.

Associated Students Vice President of Environmental Justice Affairs Sierra Donaldson has expressed concerns about the resources going into the installation process, however.

“It is no question that turf fields use less water than grass fields; however, the manufacture and transportation of the plastic and rubber components of turf fields require water, energy and raw materials that all have negative environmental impacts,” Donaldson told the Guardian. “Hopefully the university will take this and field lifespan into consideration of their net energy and waste calculations.”

Donaldson suggested that another more long-term, sustainable solution would be replacing other natural grass areas on campus.

“There is grass growing on the medical campus and elsewhere that is much larger in area than Muir Field, so the university could replace that with drought-resistant landscape and retain Muir Field’s grass for less money, less energy, less waste and sacrifice only aesthetics,” Donaldson said. “That is what I would suggest if the university was interested in long-term, sustainable solutions instead of short-term, cost-cutting solutions.”

Additional reporting by Kyle Somers.

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