Fewer than five years after switching from natural grass to artificial turf, the Santa Ynez Valley Union High football field is slated for another makeover.

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The artificial grass was initially installed in the summer of 2007 by the company FieldTurf, which has provided playing fields at several high school, college and NFL venues. Apparently, that initial turf came from a defective batch that is now known to undergo premature degradation. The Santa Ynez field has drastically worn down and, in some places, come apart due to normal use and sunlight. According to Pirates athletic director Ken Fredrickson, several other schools are experiencing the same issue, most of them in sunny states like California, Texas and Florida. The school has an eight-year warranty on the turf, so it will be replaced by FieldTurf – which is seeking legal recourse against the company that provided the turf fibers – at no cost.

The replacement process is scheduled to begin May 2, one day after Santa Ynez hosts the Los Padres League track and field finals, and last about four weeks. The school hopes to have it done before its graduation ceremony June 8. During the four-week reinstallation of the field, the track area at the school will be off-limits to students and visitors. Any athletic training that would normally take place at the field at that time will be moved to the campus’ Elks Field, where the softball team plays. Among those expected to be displaced are any track athletes preparing for the postseason, as well as the football team during spring practices.

The field will have a different look when it is finished. The endzones were replaced about a year ago, so those will remain the same, but the rest of the field, including the logo and all lines for soccer and football, will be pulled up and replaced. The field will also lose its alternating shading from light green to dark green every 5 yards since FieldTurf no longer offers a light-green version of the quality of turf being used.

“It will all be the darker green shade,” said Fredrickson, who was able to view samples of the turf during the decision-making process. “We tried to get them to make it look the same as before at no cost, but they didn’t go for that.” The field was initially upgraded to artificial turf in a renovation project that cost about $2.7 million, which was paid from donations by the Chumash Band of Indians. Fredrickson estimates the cost of the field itself at about $1.7 million. The school will keep its current warranty, which has about three years remaining. The replacement turf will be the same quality level as the current turf, just hopefully minus the defects that led to the current breakdown.

“It’s supposed to last a while,” said Fredrickson, noting he expects about 10-15 years of use from it. “We’ll just have to hope it holds up well.”

willis@syvjournal.com