The Coast News Group
The city of Vista installs FieldTurf in July at the Moonlight Ampihtheatre and is expected to save more than 196,000 gallons of water per year. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Vista installs FieldTurf at the Moonlight Amphitheatre

VISTA — One of the crown jewels of Vista entertainment has taken strides to help fight the ongoing drought.

The Moonlight Amphitheatre recently replaced approximately 8,700 square-feet of grass with FieldTurf, a synthetic grass, which is expected to reduce water usage by more than 196,000 gallons per year.

According to Cultrual Arts Program Manager Dan Kays, the turf cost $100,000 to install and is the second major project in Vista to undergo such a facelift.

In June, the Vista Sports Park replaced more than 11,000 square-feet of grass with FieldTurf.

“We are not having to water it, so we are doing our part,” Kays said. “We as the city are being good stewards to the water issue we are having in California.”

In addition to the recent installation at the amphitheatre, the city has applied for a rebate through the San Diego County Water Authority to recoup thousands of dollars in cost.

As for the general admission lawn, what Kays refers to as the balcony, the grass is still in place.

“It took time to mow, so we are saving city resources that way,” Kays added.

As for the amphitheatre, Kays said the new turf will also cut down on maintenance costs.

Several rows in the reserved section received the turf, while the back row will soon be fitted with wheelchair seating on both sides of the venue.

“As we were putting the turf in, we realized we do have access to this level,” Kays said about the handicap seating.

“Seeing seniors going in and out of those low-back lawn chairs because that’s the only thing they can afford, so giving them one more option is always benefical.”

According to a press release, the WaterSmart Turf Replacement program offers eligible residents, business and public agencies $1.50 per square-foot to replace natural turf with water-efficient landscaping options.

The city of Vista, however, engaged the projects in line with the state of California’s battle to combat the massive drought.

These measures are to help reduce water consumption by 24 percent as mandated by the state.

“EasyTurf is ideal for an installation like this, in which water savings also need to be balanced with the aesthetics, comfort and functionality of the space to maintain a high-quality guest experience,” said Steve Haber, CEO of EasyTurf.

In addition to the turf installation, Kays appeared at Tuesday’s city council meeting to present a $3 increase to ticket prices for next season.

He said the raise is due to several factors such as the upcoming minimum wage increase by $1 in January.

The amphitheatre will also present a number of shows, meaning they will bring in outside productions plus the program’s four summer shows.

To offset the cost, however, Kays said the cultural program is reaching out to other entities in neighboring cities.

“You’re buying what they are selling,” Kays said. “We wanted to bring more into this venue.

We want to use it and utilize it more throughout the year.

We do musical theater, but that is a small aspect of the entertainment spectrum.”

Moonlight Stage Productions has released its 2016 schedule and includes “Sister Act” from June 15 to July 2, 2016; “Peter Pan” from July 20 to Aug. 6; “Titanic” runs Aug. 17 to Sept. 3; and “The Addams Family — A New Musical Comedy” from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1.

Tickets go on sale in January and for information contact (760) 724-2110.