So Fresh and So Green

The construction, which began after the SMC commencement ceremony in June and was funded from the 2004 bond Measure S, includes the installation of artificial turf, as well as upgrade of bleachers, lighting and various facilities.

Although the completion is definitely near, the exact date remains ambiguous.

At the beginning of the construction in June the completion date was Sept. 1, according to a June 11 article in Santa Monica Daily Press.

The same article states that the first football game on the new field is scheduled for Sept. 27, against Los Angeles Valley College. Bruce Smith, SMC public information director, estimates the completion "in two to three weeks" from now.

Rhonda Hyatt, SMC athletic director, who is leaving the school at the end of this month, was not available to comment.

Nearly 100 athletes have the use of Santa Monica High School's athletic field to practice while the home field is under construction. Robert Taylor, SMC head football coach, is unfazed by the inconvenience, however. From his office the view of the field is unobstructed, and he watched the project's progress every day from the start.

"I'm ecstatic about the new field," Taylor said. The artificial turf, he explained, will prevent the field from getting waterlogged and allow for more games to be played every season.

A poster board in Taylor's office shows pictures of the old field looking more like a marsh: muddy, tattered and unplayable. The problem became especially apparent after last September's rainstorm, when eight inches of water accumulated under the goal post. "Every year [playing on the old grass] was a mess," Taylor said. "It became a danger for people to practice."

In addition to benefiting the football team, the versatility of the new turf will allow SMC women's soccer team to practice and play on the field for the first time.

In the past, studies have raised concerns about the safety of artificial turf. Taylor is skeptical about these fears. "I don't know about studies," he said, arguing that in football injuries result from collision, independent of the surface played upon.

All major sports stadiums have long abandoned natural grass. SMC is one of the last community colleges to make the switch to artificial turf.

"I can't wait," Taylor said. "It's the best thing to happen to athletics, facilities-wise, ever."