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Turf Troubles for High School Football Teams in Turlock

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TURLOCK -- Talk about a false start.

Just two days before the start of the high school football season and the two main schools in the city don't have a field to play on.

Turlock and Pitman High Schools have shared Joe Debely Stadium for years. In fact, the stadium was renovated back in 2010 to the tune of more than $3.5 million, which included a brand new artificial playing surface.

But now, the synthetic turf is failing and the stadium has been closed until further notice.

"I really enjoy coming here," said Chris Woods, a local resident. "Every Friday night it's a community event, whether it's Turlock or Pitman.

But recently the field has failed two, separate compaction tests. Both determined the problem was the disintegration of the little black pellets found in the synthetic turf that are meant to soften the impact. With what has happened, now the field is too hard and may cause injury.

"We paid quite a bit for that (stadium) coming out of taxpayer's dollars, and it's what six years old?" asked Kelei Caspersen, who attends most games at the stadium. "There's an issue now. Something isn't right, and I don't think we should pay it."

On Wednesday, both athletic directors from Turlock and Pitman were in a closed-door meeting with the school district's superintendent. FOX40's attempts at speaking with anyone involved with those discussions were repeatedly denied.

However, Turlock posted on its website Wednesday afternoon that the team's home games on Sept. 2 and 9 would instead be played at Livingston High School.

Pitman meanwhile posted they will play Friday nights game at Gregori High School in Modesto.

Despite the contingency plan, the issue remain as to how to fix the field.

According to the district's contract with the company who installed the synthetic surface, MondoTurf, the warranty runs through 2018. A spokesperson with the district also said they were told the turf would last 10 to 15 years.

But the district contends they are at a standstill with MondoTurf regarding replacement, and doing anything on their own at this point would void the warranty.

FOX40 also contacted MondoTurf for comment, but as of Wednesday evening, they had yet to respond, leaving players, coaches, and fans wondering if the stadium will ever be repaired.

"It seems like it's going to be a court battle," said Woods. "So, it's definitely frustrating because I really enjoy these types of events. Both schools are going to suffer from the company not honoring their warranty."