Sports enthusiasts will now be able to practice on Robertson Field, rain or shine, all year long.

Over four acres of the eight-acre field, located in front of the RecCen, have been replaced with an all-weather, artificial turf. Granite Construction Co. spent six months working on the field, which reopened in July. The field is a popular spot for various intramural sports including soccer, field hockey, ultimate Frisbee, softball and flag football. The $1.7 million project was funded by the Office of the Chancellor, a student lock-in fee, facilities management, the RecCen’s student government board and the Dept, of Exercise and Sports Studies.

Paul Lee, director of Recreational Sports, said low maintenance will compensate for the high initial cost of the new turf because the synthetic grass will not need water or fertilizer. The artificial turf will also cut down on labor costs because it only needs grooming once a month. Lee said he hopes the entire campus will soon have the resources to switch to the all-weather turf.

“The initial cost was very expensive, but in the long run it’s a much better investment.” Lee said. “The costs are minimal compared to what maintenance had to do in the past.”

Physical Activities and Recreation Assistant Director Wayne Horodowich said he is excited that sports teams are now able to play all year round.

“You can’t put a dollar amount on it,” Horodowich said.

Horodowich said the artificial grass is guaranteed for eight years and capable of 12 years of use. The cost of restoring the turf is unknown, though only the top carpet will need replacement. A fence was built around the field in order to prevent damage from cars, pets and bikes – all of which increased the costs of maintenance to the old field.

Wet weather will no longer be a problem, Horodowich said, as the new turf is a synthetic material filled with rubber particles that enable water to escape through an intricate drainage system below. In comparison to the old grass, the new material provides a flat, even playing surface as well as a safe and soft ground that cannot be damaged by overuse.

“Its a wonderful playing surface with tremendously good traction,” Horodowich said.

Horodowich said the response from sports players has been very positive and users have respected the turf’s new rules. The field is primarily used by student groups; including intramurals, club and intercollegiate sports based on scheduling priority.

Field Hockey Coach Erin Morales said the new turf has created a much better game for the team, as it allows the players to make the quick and flat passes required by field hockey.

“Our skill level has improved immensely since we have been practicing on the turf, and I think the combination of better fields and strong players will lead to a season where the UCSB field hockey team is a highly competitive contender with the other schools in our league,” Morales said. “The new turf will help our team progress towards developing an even stronger team for the near future.”

Despite initial worries that the fence around the field had holes large enough for a lacrosse ball to go through, Intramurals and Recreation Coordinator Taggart Malone said the team will be able to play on the new field. The lacrosse team petitioned extensively for the field renovation and looks forward to playing on the synthetic grass. Malone said winter matches often had to be cancelled because of the poor state of the old grass field.

Although the opening hours of the field have not been set yet, teams have been using the field until the building closes, with lights allowing them to practice until around 11 p.m.

To prevent damage to the turf, no metal cleats, food, gum, seeds, flavored drinks, pets or lawn furniture have been permitted within the fenced area.

“It’s a playing surface, not a picnic surface,” Horodowich said.