RED BLUFF, Calif. - Turf wins.
Red Bluff Joint Union High School's Board of Directors passed a motion Wednesday night to obtain a bid for a turf field, as part of their plans to upgrade the athletic and academic facilities with bond money.
The district received $26 million from Measure J, passed by taxpayers in November.
The money will be allocated to specific areas of Red Bluff High School's campus, including science and agriculture facilities and the football field.
The stadium's current surface is about 12 years old, but only had an expected 10-year lifespan. Just before the start of the school year, it was deemed unsafe.
Consequently, the board has been faced with a number of priority decisions surrounding the football field.
In addition to deciding between real grass or synthetic turf, the board also had to choose whether or not they wanted to relocate the field to make room for a track around its perimeter in the future. Ultimately, the board voted in favor of moving the field for this purpose.
"Currently our track is in very poor condition. It will probably need to be replaced in the next year or two," the school's Athletic Director Brett Southwick said.
Southwick is also a teacher at RBHS and said, aside from what the board wants, the students' opinions matter the most.
"They want a football field that we can play on," Southwick said. "They want games at home, and so, it is very disappointing. So, that's the biggest disappointment for our students...they didn't get their home football games this year."
Friday night's homecoming game will be played at Shasta High School against Lassen High.
Before reaching a final verdict, the board heard from the public and considered cost and maintenance factors for both types of playing fields.
According to one maintenance staff member, synthetic turf is easier to clean and maintain. According to one cost analysis, synthetic fields are more cost effective by about $240,000.
Concerns regarding the synthetic field included short lifespans and the public's desire for real grass.
In the end, the pros for artificial turf outweighed the cons. A four to one vote passed the motion to obtain a bid for a turf playing field, and to relocate the stadium itself, which would necessitate an investment in new lighting.
More decisions surrounding the bond money are still to come, but Wednesday night's decision gets RBHS students one step closer to getting their home field back.
The Red Bluff Spartans will continue to play the rest of their 2017 football games at other schools in the Northstate, including Shasta College.