Still looking for proof that it’s been an unduly hot summer in California? Consider this: five different high school fields in Los Angeles are being forced to replace the turf on their all-weather fields because of persistent pellet melting.
That’s right. It’s so hot that fields in Southern California are melting, to the point that they are no longer safe. According to the Los Angeles Times, three of the five schools in question — Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Fairfax and Sotomayor — have already begun replacing their surfaces, which has displaced their football teams from home facilities. The other two schools, Diego Rivera High and Washington Prep, will begin the replacement process in September and at the end of the 2015 season, respectively.
According to the LAUSD’s chief facilities executive Mark Horvatter, the fields are designed to withstand temperatures as high as 180 degrees, though tests have shown some melting effects at 140 degrees. Because of that failure to live up to the full terms of the contract, LAUSD will attempt to collect repair costs from the contractors who installed the turf surfaces, all of which were estimated to last between 8-10 years but have broken down in five or fewer. Still, the schools can’t afford to wait for reimbursement to fix the surfaces, so LAUSD is moving forward and funding the projects at an estimated cost above $500,000 in 2015.
Three athletic officials at the schools in question made it clear why it’s so critical these fields are replaced as quickly as possible when interviewed by the Times:
“The pellets started melting,” Richard Yi, El Camino Real athletic director , said of the Conquistadores’ home field that was installed in 2010. “It gradually spread.”
Fairfax replaced its grass field with all-weather turf in 2012 and football Coach Shane Cox said melting pellets soon created a “clay-like solution” that resulted in a much harder than normal playing surface.
At Diego Rivera, which opened in 2011, former football coach Jim McElroy said, “Pellets were melting big time. It looked like a bunch of gum all over the place.”