As the need for more soccer fields and other sports fields in Irvine and all of Southern California continues to grow, the trending preference — in favor of artificial turf — is growing too. There are a number of reasons — both for and against — the installation of artificial turf instead of traditional natural grass sports fields. Let’s take a look at some of the stronger arguments.
- For Artificial Turf. Putting in artificial turf is a good long-term investment. Artificial turf looks great — and keeps looking great for years. It requires almost no field maintenance. No watering, no mowing and fertilizing, and minimal labor costs. Moreover, artificial turf fields can be played on during all just about all weather conditions. Think of it like putting solar panels on top of your house. It costs considerably more money up-front, but in the long-term it will end up saving you money. In the case of artificial turf, it’s money saved on planting, re-planting and maintaining grass.
- Against Artificial Turf. Playing on artificial turf can be more dangerous than playing on traditional grass fields. Athletes experience more knee injuries because their cleats are apt to get stuck in the artificial grass and seams. The playing surface is also a lot harder than natural grass, creating an added hazard to athletes when they fall on the artificial turf, especially if they hit the ground head first.
- Monitoring the Mix of Fields. Lots of fields in Orange County are now artificial turf, including Irvine High School, University High School, and Concordia University here in Irvine. I played four years of collegiate soccer at Concordia — on artificial turf — and it was great to not have to worry about bad bumps on the playing surface. I managed to stay away from any serious injuries. The Great Park has both natural grass and artificial turf fields right now, with many more fields coming on line in the months ahead. As a community, it will make a lot of sense for us to monitor and compare Irvine’s experience with artificial turf and the more traditional natural grass sports fields. Let’s systematically compare costs, and let’s also pay attention to what the young (and older) athletes tell us about their actual on-the-field playing experience.