Grass Will Be Greener in Fall at St. Francis

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rain and heavy use of the football field no longer will be problems for athletic teams at St. Francis High.

The La Canada school has paid $650,000 to replace its grass football field with FieldTurf, the same artificial surface used at Washington and Nebraska.

FieldTurf looks and feels like grass but players are not susceptible to turf burns associated with other artificial surfaces.

Football Coach Jim Bonds said his players are looking forward to playing and practicing on the surface.

"They've never stepped foot on it, but you can sense they're excited," Bonds said. "The consistency will be a tremendous upgrade. We're going to have the best field in L.A. County without a doubt."

Every school year, St. Francis' grass field starts out green and ends up looking more like dirt after being torn up from football and soccer workouts.

With FieldTurf, St. Francis will have a year-round facility that provides safer playing conditions during inclement weather.

The field is guaranteed for eight years and expected to last for at least 15 years. The school will save thousands of dollars in yearly maintenance costs, no longer needing water, mowing or seeding.

FieldTurf's grass fiber is connected to a foundation made from silica sand and ground rubber. Used Nike athletic shoes are part of the rubber mix.

St. Francis officials visited school sites in Oregon and San Diego to gauge the effectiveness of FieldTurf. They've already received inquiries from other local schools interested in replacing their fields with FieldTurf.

Oaks Christian in Westlake Village is installing AstroPlay, another artificial surface, for its baseball, softball and soccer fields.

Bonds hopes St. Francis' new field will be completed in time for the Golden Knights to host a summer passing competition on June 27.

Funds for the field come from an $8 million, two-year fund-raising campaign that will help finance a new school parking lot, field house, weight room and performing arts center.

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