A recent visit to Soquel High School Dewey Tompkin’s field. The field is absolutely beautiful and looks absolutely incredible after Soquel Football’s season #1 on the new Astroturf artificial turf surface.
More information from the Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Jim Seimas, Santa Cruz Sentinel
SOQUEL >> In a case of preventative medicine, Soquel High is getting a new, safer synthetic turf surface at Dewey Tompkins Field. But its installation could force the Knights’ football team to play its first home game of the season off campus.
The previous turf field, which has already been removed, failed numerous compression tests in early March. Going through the necessary protocol and paperwork to get a contract and board approval to finance the $891,000 turf and state-of-the-art subsurface prevented the school from beginning the project earlier than mid-August.
The risk of having one less football game on campus is worth it, said Santa Cruz City Schools District Superintendent Kris Munro, who is optimistic the Knights won’t miss any home games.
“Our priority is providing safe spaces for kids to learn and play,” Munro said.
The Knights open preseason with a pair of road games — Sept. 5 at Los Altos and Sept. 12 at Monterey — before hosting Menlo School on Sept. 18. Soquel athletics director Stu Walters said he hopes to secure Cabrillo College as a contingency plan in case the Knights’ field isn’t completed. The Knights next host Watsonville in their homecoming game on Sept. 25.
Soquel went from grass to synthetic turf in 2004 for $800,000. Most synthetic turf fields installed at that time carry a lifespan of 8-10 years. Sometimes the turf wears down after taking a beating from cleats and the elements. Other times, as was the case with Soquel’s field, the ground-up rubber tires spread across the field for cushioning break down and become less resilient.
“After they tested it, they told us, ‘Your field is in quite bad condition,’” said Trevor Miller, the director of facility services for SCCS. “That’s when we hit the panic button.”
Miller had been looking into new alternative bases, especially since the use of recycled tires has drawn heavy criticism for being a potential health risk. The scare was fueled by a report two years ago about a high number of cancer cases among soccer goalies.
Brock International, whose headquarters are in Boulder, Colo., conducted the testing on Soquel’s old field. It will also be laying the new turf and a one-inch pad called PowerBase for the subsurface. PowerBase is made primarily of polypropylene, a plastic used in reusable containers, cloting and rugs. It carries a 20-year warranty.
“The warranty is twice the length of the field and it could go double that,” Miller said of the pad’s expected lifespan. “It’s going to be a really nice field and it’s going to be exciting to see how long it lasts. This is going to be the standard by which all football, soccer and lacrosse fields will be measured.”
The Knights’ freshman, junior varsity and varsity football teams are practicing on the baseball field until they get their turf back.
“The kids don’t really care,” Knights football coach Brad Tompkins said. “We’re kind of treating the baseball field as kind of a summer camp up there.”
Camp can’t end soon enough, Walters said.
“It’s going to have a big ‘S’ in the middle and ‘Soquel’ and ‘Knights’ in the end zones,” Walter said. “It’s gonna look nice.”