Synthetic turf has evolved dramatically in recent years. The use of an infill material – the “soil” in synthetic turf that keeps the turf fibers upright and provides a cushion for balls and players – makes for safer, more comfortable play while still allowing for the constant, all-weather play.
In San Francisco, converting a field to synthetic turf can more than double the amount of athletic playtime in a park; that’s a big benefit given our sad shortage of sports fields for kids. Synthetic turf fields can be open and host play from morning to night, every day of the year. The fields never need to closed for rain, rest or regrowth; meaning games and practices are never canceled to avoid damaging grass turf.
Currently, some sports fields, like Beach Chalet, are locked and closed to play except by permit reservation. The city is forced to limit public access to preserve the condition of the grass turf. With synthetic turf, the fields are almost always playable and “open play” time is guaranteed for pick-up games and informal neighborhood play.
Many of San Francisco’s playing fields also suffer from abundant gopher holes making the field dangerous and difficult for safe play. City soccer players are trained to watch where they run instead of watching the ball. Injuries are common.
Synthetic turf fields are level, consistent and free of gopher holes. The turf received a thorough vetting by the City’s Synethetic Playfields Task Force and two lengthy environmental reviews – Beach Chalet Athletic Fields and Minnie & Lovie Rec Center Athletic Fields.
Numerous state, federal and private studies have continually verified the safety of synthetic turf. From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to the California Environmental Protection Agency to San Francisco’s own Department of the Environment, study after study has found synthetic turf to be safe for people, pets, wildlife and our environment. A partial list of recent research confirming the safety of synthetic turf is listed on our Health and Environmental page.
Each full-sized synthetic turf field also saves 1,500,000 gallons of water each year and eliminates the need for herbicides or fertilizers.
After managing San Francisco’s first public synthetic turf fields at Youngblood Coleman and Franklin Square Parks, Recreation and Park Department’s Turf Manager concluded that, "The numerous benefits of synthetic soccer fields far outweigh the large cost of their installation. Clearly, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department should continue to install more synthetic turf soccer fields. The citizens of San Francisco deserve more and better recreational opportunities of the sort these fields would provide.”