Big plans for Golden Gate Park soccer

Tucked alongside the newly-freshened Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park, the Beach Chalet soccer fields have helped generations of Bay Area soccer hopefuls learn the beautiful game.

The City has floated a $15 million plan to replace the aging soccer fields with an improved, lighted complex with synthetic fields, bleachers and a barbecue area. The new facility would be open year-round until 10 p.m., allowing for thousands more hours of soccer practice for young and old.

Some residents and parkgoers aren’t keen on what they say will be light pollution at night from the ten 60-foot tall light towers illuminating the field, though a draft environmental impact report from The City said the light is not expected to harm views significantly.

Katherine Howard of SF Ocean Edge, a group opposing the project, told the Chronicle she also had a problem with the synthetic soccer fields planned for the complex:

“We don’t think plastic grass is any more appropriate than plastic trees or little rubber birds up in the tree. It’s a park. It should be an ecosystem. It should be living and growing.”

Plastic field cost pennies on the dollar to maintain compared with grass fields, while also eliminating problems like turned ankles from gopher holes.

Funds for the project are expected to come from a $185 million park bond passed by S.F. voters in 2008, as well as a public-private partnership entered into by The City.