Football season is still up in the air, but at least Santa Ynez High’s stadium is about ready for kickoff.
The installation of a new, synthetic playing surface was expected to be completed by the end of this week, school officials said on Wednesday.
“It was originally going to be 18 days of actual construction, so we thought it would carry further into July,” said Scott Cory, superintendent of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District. “They didn’t run into any unforeseen situations. We’re in really good shape right now.”
The replacement surface, complete with a giant Pirate logo at midfield, has been drawing rave reviews from Santa Ynez’s student-athletes.
“The guys have been checking it out and they’re really stoked,” football coach Josh McClurg said. “It’s looking really nice.”
The $720,000 project entered a fast track this spring after the condition of the current surface was deemed unsafe.
“We were able to run a pretty good vetting process of vendors and still allow for an appropriate amount of installation time before the season could get underway,” Mr. Cory said.
The board of directors for the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District voted 4-1 to approve the contract with Asphalt Fabric and Engineering, Inc. during a special meeting on March 26.
“The field was basically disintegrating,” Mr. McClurg said. “The original surface was installed in 2005, and that one failed. It was under warranty and replaced again in 2012, and then the same thing happened.”
The school district hopes to be reimbursed for some or all of the replacement costs. It is one of several plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the original turf manufacturer, FieldTurf Tarkett SAS.
Mr. Cory expects the third time to be the charm.
“It’s a significant upgrade,” he said. “We did some work to the substrata and added a concussion pad that we didn’t have before to make the field safer for the student-athletes and for the community, as well.
“We get a tremendous amount of community use from everything from soccer to youth football. We like to be available for them. Everybody is going to win on this one.”
Mr. McClurg said the new field includes cooling technology for the rubber material underneath the field. New subsurface gravel was also necessary since it wasn’t replaced in 2012, he added.
“We were getting ruts on the hash marks where it was really worn down,” he said. “It really needed to be upgraded.”
The aesthetics are also an improvement, Mr. Cory said.
“It really looks amazing,” he said. “I didn’t realize how bad the old field was until they put in this one.
“It’s so vibrant, with alternating shades of green every five yards, and it has one of the biggest logos the installers have ever done. They’ve done a really nice job with it, too.”
The school’s football team, which scheduled its first two games on the road at Nipomo on Aug. 21 and Fillmore on Aug. 28, would play its first home game on the new turf on Sept. 4 against Nordhoff.
But the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already delayed the Pirates from summer training, has left all fall sports up in the air. The California Interscholastic Federation said it will announce its plans for reopening activities on July 20.
The CIF currently mandates that schools conduct 10 padded practices before a scrimmage and 14 padded practices before an official game, McClurg pointed out.
“If I were a betting man, I don’t see us playing a game on Aug. 21,” he said. “That’s less than two months away. I think it will be delayed a bit.
“I’m just waiting with everyone else to see what the CIF has in mind.”