This hot Los Angeles summer has really tested the synthetic football fields of five local high schools, pretty much just melting them into sticky puddles. The optimistically named "all-weather sports fields" are buckling under the heat at a handful of locations, says the LA Times, turning what's normally a field of tiny, independent pellets into what one football coach described as a "clay-like solution" that another said looked "like a bunch of gum all over the place." The little balls are supposed to survive in temperatures up to 180 degrees, though in tests they were starting to fall apart at 140.
Synthetic fields absorb heat and end up hotter than the ambient temperature, so if they're sitting out in the sun all day, they can actually get pretty damn hot. Three of the five schools (Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Fairfax, and Sotomayor High Schools) are working on repairs to their fields now, even though football games are going on, meaning they have to play their games on their opponents' fields or find other sites. The other two, Diego Rivera High and Washington Prep, are waiting to start their repairs until later this month and after the completion of their football season, respectively.
The Los Angeles Unified School District says the melting is caused by defective materials, and is going to be asking contractors to reimburse them for the costs to replace the fields. (They estimate it will cost between $500,000 and $800,000 to fix all the fields up.) The synthetic areas, all installed within the last five years, were supposed to last between eight and 10 years; the materials at all five problem locations came from the same China-based manufacturer.
· Five LAUSD high schools are forced to replace melting all-weather fields [LAT]