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L.A.'s Soccer Fields Are All Being Converted To Artificial Turf

A kid takes a penalty kick on one of the new turf fields in Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks War Memorial Park (via Department of Recreation and Parks on Facebook)
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Here's another casualty as a result of California's drought: the knees of amateur soccer players.Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation says they'll be replacing the surface of the city's roughly 100 soccer fields with artificial turf in an effort to cut back on water use and maintenance costs. Every year, a single natural grass field can use anywhere between 1 to 3.5 million gallons of water. Although synthetic surfaces still use some water in order to be cleaned, it's nowhere near the annual amount of water roughly 80,000 square feet of grass needs per year. Multiply that by the number of fields in Los Angeles and the switch makes sense.

"Our soccer fields are the most widely used sports fields in the country," Tom Gibson, a Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks planner, told L.A. Weekly. "Our fields are used on a daily basis."

Although the switch it quite sensible, both environmentally and economically, it certainly won't be popular for the players. Artificial turf is generally thought of as harder and more uncomfortable to play on, possibly leading to more injuries (although the jury is still out on that). Artificial turf technology has improved through the years, but it remains unpopular among athletes. The issue came to the forefront recently in the Women's World Cup, where every match was played on artificial surfaces, leading to backlash from the players and a gender discrimination lawsuit (that was later withdrawn).

The latest fields to see the switch were three in Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks War Memorial Park, which came at the cost of almost $3 million. However, with future water and maintenance costs saved, it should pay itself off in the long run.

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The Department of Recreation and Parks website has a list of 21 synthetic fields throughout the city, though it hasn't been updated since 2013.