Midtown: Sports

Raleigh to dedicate two new turf fields at WRAL Soccer Center

cgrant@newsobserver.com

Local officials hope two new synthetic soccer fields will help accommodate more play and increase economic opportunities in the Triangle.

The City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department will host a ribbon-cutting Sunday to dedicate two multipurpose turf fields at the WRAL Soccer Center.

A $1.16 million contract for the project was unanimously approved by City Council in April. Capital Area Soccer League owns the facility and has an agreement allowing for city use of the fields.

The new fields will replace two existing grass fields, giving the complex five turf fields with lights to accommodate night activities among its 21 fields.

Turf fields allow for less maintenance and more playing opportunities than natural grass, as the fields drain quickly, allowing events to go on despite rain.

“One of the reasons that the city did this was to get more economic impact from outside folks, and the extra turf fields will do that in that we will be a better destination (for local and regional activity),” said Charlie Slagle, CEO of Capital Area Soccer League. “Summer here there’s a lot of rain, and the artificial turf fields can take that.”

The addition of more synthetic fields will also allow the grass fields to remain in better shape, he said.

“Having more artificial surface allows us to have more practice area and allows our other fields to grow and become better and better,” he said, adding that the league plans to use only turf fields during the winter months to help sustain the natural grass.

Though great natural grass trumps artificial turf as a playing surface, Slagle said it’s difficult to keep grass fields in great shape and weather is unpredictable, so having both types of fields is key.

Still, synthetic surfaces have made advances over the years, he said.

“When you go back 20 years, it was more like playing on your living room carpet,” Slagle said. “Cleats would stick, which increased injuries. ... Now (turf surfaces) play very much like grass. The injuries are very much like grass, and they don’t require as much maintenance.”

The complex got its first turf fields roughly seven years ago and added a third three years ago.

The fields will not only benefit CASL, but other area leagues in various sports, such as lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee.

Though rain has delayed construction, the fields are expected to be completed by the first week in September.

The ribbon cutting is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be followed by CASL’s kickoff event, which includes small-sized fields set up for kids, lectures and discussions from medical staff, distribution of team packets and uniforms, and a town hall-style meeting to inform membership of league developments and updates.

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