In December, Cal Poly Athletics announced that Alex G. Spanos Stadium would be switching playing surfaces, from natural grass to FieldTurf, a decision that is not popular among some players.
The $3.2 million project began in November and is set to be completed before the June Spring Commencement Ceremony.
Women’s soccer sophomore midfielder Camille Lafaix was one of a number of Cal Poly athletes not in favor of the switch to artificial turf.
“I am definitely not the only one that was bummed about [the turf],” Lafaix said.
Spanos Stadium was the only venue in the Big Sky –– Cal Poly football’s conference –– that used natural grass as the playing surface. On the flip side, Spanos will now be the only venue in the Big West –– Cal Poly men’s and women’s soccer conference –– that uses artificial turf.
“We’re so happy to play on grass,” Lafaix said. “It’s the best surface you can play on in Division 1 as a soccer player, so I don’t really know how [the turf] will be an advantage in the long run.”
Cal Poly men’s soccer sophomore midfielder Nathan Colley is more optimistic about the new surface and a chance at a change in scenery.
“I think the team was okay with it, but they weren’t super happy about it,” Colley said. “Everyone loves playing on a good grass field, but at the same time, I think we’re going to make the best of it and it’s still a great surface to play on.”
Colley said that the new change will allow all soccer games to be played on a fair and true surface. A soccer pitch is wider than a football field, so the conditions on natural grass are oftentimes more rugged and beat up for soccer matches that follow football games.
One main concern from both Lafaix and Colley is that turf surfaces lead to more injuries. The surface has less give when players hit the ground, leading to more non-contact knee, foot, and ankle injuries.
Athletes at all levels have been vocal about their displeasure of turf fields following the many ACL injuries from NFL players, most notably Odell Beckham Jr. in Super Bowl LVI.
In addition to injury concerns, Lafaix said that the turf will have the soccer pitch outlined in black lines, which could be difficult for players to see during night games. The women’s team also plays Sunday day matches, which will lead to higher temperatures for athletes on the field.
The specific turf that Spanos will feature is a mix of sand and rubber infill mix, which will hopefully cushion some falls from athletes.
“We’re always excited when we get to play [at Spanos] and whatever surface it is, it’s exciting to have our season coming up,” Colley said.