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Muirlands still raising funds for field

The effort to raise $1.1 million to construct a new, synthetic turf field at Muirlands Middle School to serve a multisports complex to include La Jolla High is almost there - but not quite.

The Muirlands Foundation’s July 1 target date to complete the fundraising drive has come and gone, but it’s not too late to pitch in.

“We’re just hoping against hope that we can pull this together with the help of the La Jolla community, which has always been generous relating to projects benefiting youth in the area,” said Dana Shelburne, La Jolla High principal.

Shelburne added, with permitting and attendant costs, that another $65,000 to $80,000 still needs to be raised.

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“We’re hoping someone will see this as an opportunity to put us over the top.”

Shelburne quipped they’re short one donation of $80,000, two of $40,000 or 15 at $5,000 to get the project over the financial hump.

The field resurfacing project, called “TurfIt,” is needed because extensive overuse of the old, natural grass field at Muirlands was causing a slew of injuries.

Said Shelburne. “It’s ragged and jagged, undulating, Last year there were six to 12 field-related injuries.”

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About 1,000 Muirlands Middle School students use the field daily for PE and intramural sports. The facility is also home to overflow from La Jolla High School’s athletic program, including baseball, junior varsity football, field hockey and soccer. Besides students, the field is also open for community use, including youth athletic programs and family events.

It is also is used by the two schools for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and baseball.

He said, “The goal is to utilize about 120,000 square feet of space that is underutilized at the present moment, in a community where open field space is at a premium

Christine Hargrave, Muirlands Middle School principal, noted money for the field turfing project can’t be borrowed.

“We’re getting $500,000 in matching funds from the San Diego Unified School District and that has to be cash-in-hand, not donated services,” she said. “We’re hoping to start the project as soon as we get the money.”

Shelburne said contractors told them the returfing project will take two months to complete.

Tim Coury, sales director in Southern California for Fieldturf, the artificial surface that would go in at the Muirlands and the same installed at La Jolla High’s stadium nine years ago, said the material has decided advantages over Astroturf or natural grass.

“It’s consistent - there’s no holes or bumps, it’s a level playing field,” he said. “We’ve got 26 NFL teams using it and they call it fast grass.”

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Coury added Fieldturf , which costs about $1 million for material and installation, saves a millon gallons of water a year and drains so well when it rains that it “remains completely playable in a downpour.”