Sports Complex receives a face lift

Community leaders and local residents came out to the Glendale Sports

Complex Friday evening to break in the new "grass" -- artificial

sports turf that looks, feels and acts like grass, but isn't.

"It's really squishy," said 11-year-old Shelby Gregg, a La

Crescenta resident and a member of the local American Youth Soccer

Organization team. "It's kind of weird stepping on it. If you haven't

used it before, it's interesting. But I'm sure I'll get used to it."

Work on the two soccer fields at the Glendale Sports Complex and

construction of a new track wrapped up Wednesday, ahead of schedule

and under budget, project administrator Rich Inga said.

Friday marked the official dedication of the new turf and track,

with soccer activities and refreshments.

"It is just beautiful," said Karen Fries, community services

supervisor with the Glendale Parks, Recreation and Community Services

Department. "I think just the fact that we will now have year-round

play is great. We used to have to have maintenance time to re-group

the field, but now we can have year-round play."

The additions and upgrades, approved last November, were

originally estimated to cost $2.2 million. But the project capped at

$1.75 million when all was said and done, Inga said.

The Sports Complex previously had two grass soccer fields but

maintaining the grass became difficult and pricey, project manager

Shahen Begoumian said.

"It is just night and day," Inga said. "There's a big difference

between playing in dirt and playing on grass, and that's what it was

before, people playing on the fields, because it had so much use, the

fields were in dirt most of the time."

This new turf, made of nylon, drains better and provides a playing

surface less likely to injure players, Begoumian said.

And maintenance is cheaper because there is no watering involved.

Parks and Recreation officials estimate they can save $50,000 to

$70,000 a year on maintenance costs.

"The most important thing is that the kids will be able to play in

the winter or summer, no matter what the season," said Glendale Mayor

Rafi Manoukian. "If we can do more of this around the city, we

should."

The turf will require only minor maintenance once a month to clean

the material, a decrease from the sometimes several months it can

take to regrow and maintain real grass after a season of usage,

Begoumian said.

The fields are home to local independent and adult soccer leagues,

as well as the American Youth Soccer Organization teams, which

presented the city with a $50,000 check Tuesday, at the City Council

meeting, to help offset project costs, Inga said.

* TANIA CHATILA covers public safety and courts. She may be

reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at

o7tania.chatila@latimes.com.

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