Green fields give 'shock'

BURBANK — City and school officials set foot on Burbank High School’s new artificial turf field Wednesday, getting their first look at a product of their $18-million joint venture.

The sight of a sweeping green mat of fake grass, which was part of a larger, three-pronged project, offered a sense of encouragement to the excited officials, who wanted to get an early glimpse of the field, they said.

“It’s just impressive when you spend your whole life in Burbank and drive by and all you see is dirt. It’s a real shock to see green,” Mayor Gary Bric said.

The field will be a source of excitement for the city after years of low-quality playing conditions for athletes and visitors, officials said.

“This really transforms the place from the mudhole that we used to talk about,” Burbank Unified School District President Dave Kemp said.

The City Council and Burbank Unified each approved spending plans last year to renovate athletic facilities at Jordan Middle School, and Burbank and John Burroughs high schools.

The facilities are to be shared for both public and school use, costing the city $13.4 million and the district $4.7 million, said Jan Britz, Burbank Unified’s assistant superintendent of instructional services and City Hall liaison.

Workers will also replace the grass at Memorial Field with artificial turf during a stadium renovation project that will include facility upgrades and the installation of an all-weather track. The total price tag for the Memorial Field project is expected to reach nearly $12 million.

The Burbank High field and all-weather track installation will cost $4 million.

Both fields will include irrigation systems that will use reclaimed water to keep the artificial surfaces cool on hot days.

A field at Jordan will also be redeveloped with natural grass.

Officials also plan to add 75 parking spaces at the middle school to go along with track and field amenities that are expected to draw more residents to the site, officials said.

The Jordan project is expected to cost about $2 million.

All of the projects will benefit students while improving athletic facilities for residents, Supt. Kevin Jolly said.

“It’s a great partnership between the city and the school district, and this way there will be a lot more usage from the city at large,” Jolly said.

The Burbank High field was not yet set into place and will not be ready for public use until September, after which it will be open daily during limited operating hours, officials said.

Crews still need to spread black rubber pellets into the field to give the surface a cushion that resembles that of natural grass and dirt, officials said.

More than 50 bags of the material, each weighing 2,800 pounds, were arranged on the sides of the field as workers continued to fasten down yellow and white lines that will be permanent fixtures on the field to mark boundaries for soccer and football games.

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