GHS Stadium: Turf conditions raise concerns, district says issues already being addressed

Gilroy Mustangs

When the Gilroy High football team walked out to its field last week, it did a collective double-take.
The normally dull field was suddenly gleeming with new life. The transformation led some players to believe their field had been replaced. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, Gilroy’s AstroTurf field had just been cleaned.
Cleaning the field is just the tip of the iceberg  the Mustangs are facing, football coach Brian Boyd said. While he thinks his team has one of the best stadiums in the area, he said the upkeep is lacking, causing safety issues for his players.
“One of my biggest fears is someone getting like a staph infection or something,” Boyd said. “It’s not clean. … The field does have sprinklers and we turned them on manually last year to cool it down because it got so hot. But that’s not what they’re for. They should be coming on once a week to wash off all the spit and blood.”
Boyd said the only repair that he has seen in his four years at the school was the replacement of the field’s “G” after it was burned last season by vandals. But the busted seams of the turf have gone unrepaired despite several work orders being placed by Gilroy’s Athletic Department to the school district. The busted seams result in the build up of the rubber pellets in the field, creating an uneven playing surface. Boyd said this is a relativey easy fix if the turf was to be swept down periodically.
Gilroy Unified School District tells a different story, however. The district’s interim maintenance manager Dan McAuliffe said weekly upkeep of the field is already underway. He said the district even brought in a representative from Sprint Turf, the company that installed the field nine years ago, who said they were “quite pleased” with the condition of the field.
“It’s actually in better shape than we anticipated,” said McAuliffe, who believes the turf is probably good for a few more years given it has 15-year life expectancy.
The district is currently exploring other options to better preserve the playing surface. According to McAuliffe, they already provide cleaning inhouse with maintence coming out of a general fund. Moving forward — especially with Christopher High School installing a similar field on their campus — they are looking into the following options to maintain the fields:
Option 1: Bring in a turf deep cleaning company that would clean the field twice a year for $3,000. This option would bring in a state-of-the-art cleaning machine of NFL quality.
Option 2: Purchase the cleaning machine themselves. A machine of this caliber would cost the district anywhere from $8,000 to $40,000 to buy. Some of the financial burden could be split by partnering with another district, city or company with need for the same machine.
Wear and tear of the field is to be expected given the amount of use the field receives. In addition to Gilroy and Christopher teams practicing and playing on the field, it is also used by Gavilan teams and Pop Warner football as well as community soccer teams on weekends.
It’s the overuse of the field is what has led the turf to be in the condition it’s in, Boyd said. In order to extend it’s longevity, he said that needs something needs to change.
“It’s a city school, it’s not a private school but this field and track and everything over here is accessible all the time,” Boyd said. “To me, it shouldn’t be. They should lock these gates up at a certain time. … They say the turf has a 10-12 year span and in two to three years it’s going to be up. What’s going to happen then? Don Christopher isn’t going to loan us $1 million to replace the turf. So what’s going to happen then?”
Gilroy field hockey coach Adam Gemar said  he has seen some maintanience of the field occur, usually before the start of the fall prep season. Although it was hard for him to say whether it happens on an annual basis or not.
“Sure things could be fixed a little quicker, but I think they are fixed at least once a year if I’m not mistaken,” he said. “It always could be better but I have no complaints. We’re just happy we have it.”
Boyd agreed, saying that having the turf is a blessing. The coach said he just wished the upkeep of the field didn’t fall into the hands of the teams that use it and that the school’s requests would, at the very least, be acknowledged.
“We just want it to be maintained, that’s all,” Boyd said. “It’s a great stadium and everyone loves it. It has a great atmosphere and how it is with the trees and hills behind it, it’s just beautiful.”
Dispatch reporter Scott Forstner contributed to this report.