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Beginning in August, a baseball and soccer field at Pan Pacific Park will be completely refurbished.
The soccer field near 3rd Street and baseball Field 1 will have completely new turf. Synthetic turf is designated for the soccer field, while the baseball field will be renovated with a new grass and dirt baseball diamond.
The synthetic turf to be added to the soccer field serves three purposes: it is drought-compliant, aesthetically pleasing and more resilient than natural grass, according to Ben Seinfeld, a field deputy for the office of Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District.
The renovations for will include a new irrigation system solely for Field 1, a new backstop, a taller fence (since many of the baseballs are hit into the nearby parking lot), lighting improvements and cover for the bleachers, according to Seinfeld.
Gardeners at Pan Pacific Park were notified approximately two weeks ago that the soccer field and Field 1 will be renovated, according to Pan Pacific Park gardener Isaac Montoya.
He added that the changes are much needed.
“We’re going to make them more presentable. It’s something that needed to be done,” Montoya said.
In August, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the new baseball field, according to Montoya, who said Pan Pacific Park gardeners have repeatedly attempted to maintain the grass on the soccer field, but after heavy, daily use, “people run it down.”
Gardeners and park staff ensure that the Dodgers Dreamfield in the park, Field 2, is well maintained. It was installed in 2011 and does not need to be refurbished.
“We do our best to keep [that field] green and looking good,” Montoya said.
Pan Pacific Park’s Dodgers Dreamfield was first unveiled on July 23, 2011. The Dodgers, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and LA84 Foundation, a nonprofit that funds youth sports programming using money raised during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, have helped fund more than 30 Dreamfields in Southern California. The Dodgers Dreamfield at Pan Pacific Park was the 14th field built since 2003.
The decision to use synthetic turf comes from the city’s commitment to be more conscious of water usage, especially during the drought. Although it still needs watering to keep it clean and cool, synthetic turf requires substantially less water than real grass, Montoya said.
Montoya added that watering will probably be reduced to approximately once a month.
“Since we don’t fully know how to deal with synthetic turf, we will most likely be taking classes with the department of parks and recreation on how to maintain it,” Montoya said.
Synthetic turf is more durable than regular grass but without watering, it can get very hot, Montoya said.
“On hot days, it can warp, but it would have to get ridiculously hot in the day. It’s a weird material to deal with. That’s why we have to water it to keep it damp and cool.”
But Montoya said it’s nothing to get too concerned over. Other parks have used synthetic turf for sports fields, such as Seoul International Park in Koreatown, which has a synthetic baseball field.
In total, there are 21 parks throughout the city that have synthetic turf sport fields, according to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
John DeGomez is a coach with the Wilshire Warriors PONY Baseball, an organization that runs year-round baseball tournaments at the park. DeGomez and several Wilshire Warriors teams practice at Pan Pacific Park regularly.
He added that he is anxious about the new changes to the baseball field.
“The baseball field [at Field 1] was perfectly green about four months ago and now it’s all brown,” DeGomez said. “They don’t water it as much as they should.”
DeGomez played college baseball on Astroturf, a brand of synthetic turf, and said it’s an improvement compared to real grass.
“It’s very easy to maintain. There’s not a whole lot of damage that can happen to it,” DeGomez said.
DeGomez worries, however, that with one baseball field down, it will impact availability at the two remaining fields.
“This last spring, it was really hectic. Two teams were practicing on one field and three teams were practicing on Field 3,” DeGomez said.
Daniel Frankel, of Wilshire Warriors PONY Baseball, said the league plans to continue using the baseball fields.
“We are happy [partners] of Pan Pacific Park and appreciate any upgrades that they perform,” Frankel said.
If it were a more expansive renovation, it would impact their teams’ practice, Frankel added.
“There is a remote possibility that it will be inconvenient for us if one or two fields are taken,” Frankel said.
According to Pan Pacific Park administration, renovations will be completed in approximately one year.
Carey Steinberg played soccer on Tuesday with 7-year-old Maddix Garcia, at Pan Pacific Park. As both Steinberg and Garcia played soccer, dirt clouds arose as they took turns kicking the ball.
But Garcia didn’t mind that it was a completely void of grass, dirt field.
“I’m allergic to grass,” Garcia said.
Garcia added that he is looking forward to playing soccer on the synthetic turf field.
“I think these plans to renovate the park are good, especially during a drought. It would be a great change and might possibly attract a soccer league. It would be a benefit to the kids like Maddix who are allergic to grass,” Steinberg said.
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