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UCLA football to get new natural and synthetic practice fields

The project will replace turf that's been blamed for injuries. Each field will remain 80 yards long.

April 19, 2012|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero says the school is "looking at the feasibility" of installing synthetic turf at the Bruins' practice facility after spring practice finishes in May.
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero says the school is "looking at… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

UCLA will put new synthetic turf and natural grass fields on Spaulding Field, the football team's practice facility.

The project is roughly estimated to cost $1.2 million and could begin as soon as spring practice ends May 5 and be completed before practice resumes in August.

"We're looking at the feasibility of doing it immediately after spring ball," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. "If that doesn't work within the confines of the [University of California's] bidding process, then we will do it immediately after the season."

Further improvements to Spaulding Field will be considered in the future, which could include a football team house. The turf is the only plan at the moment but Guerrero said, "We will investigate the feasibility of making other improvements to the facility."

Both the natural and synthetic fields will remain 80 yards long.

"That will be great, but it's not something I dwell on," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. "I worry about the guys on the field, not the field guys are on.

"When I was coaching the Saints with my dad, our practice field was 60 yards of grass that backed up to an electrical plant. Then we had 40 yards of what you couldn't even call AstroTurf. You didn't want to walk across it. And we were as good a football team as I have been around."

The turfs at Spaulding Field were last changed in 2006 but players have often complained about each field.

The natural grass "feels like sand," former UCLA center Kai Maiava said in December. The synthetic turf, current and former players have said, has depressions that they have called a contributing factor to non-contact injuries.

The UCLA facilities department smoothed out the synthetic turf before spring practice.

UCLA has a $136-million renovation of Pauley Pavilion and a $160-million Rose Bowl project underway. Guerrero said any further projects at Spaulding Field would have to be done within space limitations.

"What's unique about UCLA is the assets we have, that are better than most, but one of the pitfalls is we're on a postage stamp," Guerrero said. "There is a premium on available land on campus."

But, he said, "We'll do everything we can to optimize our facilities."

Time to Manfro up

Running back Steven Manfro is a serious contender. How can he tell? He has a nickname: White Mamba.

Manfro, generously listed at 5 feet 11 and 195 pounds, had another in a series of breakaway runs Thursday, deking two defenders along the way.

"I'm just trying to prove I can play with the best of them," Manfro said. "I felt like there was some doubt about whether I could play on this level during the recruiting process. I think that's why I didn't get too many offers."

Quick hits

Mora said Saturday's scrimmage "is going to be modified" because of the number of injuries the Bruins have had this spring. "It would be hard to have a 90-100 play scrimmage," Mora said. "We'll set up competitive periods." … Guard Wade Yandall, who returned from a concussion Saturday, was sidelined again Thursday. Mora said it was because of neck pains.

chris.foster@latimes.com twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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