ENCINITAS — Little League players will be fielding ground balls and pop-flys on artificial turf this season.Thanks to a donation from the Encinitas Little League, a nonprofit, artificial turf will be installed on the infield of Paul Ecke Sports Park’s field two prior to Opening Day March 3.
Replacing the infield grass with artificial turf will take five days. Factoring in future maintenance and the price of installation, the artificial turf will cost around $20,000. It’s a steep price tag, but will save money over time, according to Encinitas Little League President Todd Sleet.
“Looking at the cost of maintaining the grass in the future, the turf will save us money going forward in the next five to 10 years,” Sleet said. “Sprinkler costs and other general maintenance adds up with grass. And before we had to maintain the infield even when baseball season was done. No more with the new turf.”
The Encinitas Little League also wants the field to look more professional.
“We want to make the kids feel like they’re playing in the big leagues,” Sleet said. “At the end of the day it’s about them.”
The artificial turf is expected to last for more than 12 years. The Encinitas Little League raised funds for the artificial turf with home run derbies and corporate sponsorships.
The Encinitas Little League’s board of directors voted to install artificial turf on field two primarily because it receives less foot traffic than the other three fields at Paul Ecke Sports Park.
According to Sleet, the Encinitas Little League has no plans to install artificial turf on the other fields.
The Encinitas Parks and Recreation department helped plan the project.
“After several months of working together, we came up with something that benefits the city and the league,” said Lisa Rudloff, Encinitas Parks and Recreation director.
The Encinitas City Council gave the artificial turf the green light Feb. 15.
Donations in excess of $10,000 require City Council approval.