ANTIOCH -- For local soccer, football and rugby players, now anytime can be game time.
Antioch recently completed a near $3.1 million project to replace grass at two fields at Antioch Community Park with all-weather synthetic turf -- making it the first city facility with such a surface.
New lights were also installed so the complex can be used at night.
The fields will help Antioch meet the nonstop demand of various youth and adult soccer programs and other sports to use the fields, said Al Anthony, the city's recreation specialist. Players are kept off grass fields in winter months because of the rain and muddy conditions, but the new fields will remain available for use, he said. Folsom-based Beals Alliance started work on the synthetic field last fall, but leagues were kept off the field for the past two years.
"We're really excited and it's something we're looking forward to," said Jim Bonwell, president of the Delta Youth Soccer League. "It's something other leagues don't have."
In particular, having an all-weather field and lights during the winter months will be huge for its competitive leagues, he said.
"There's a lot of interest already," Anthony said. "It will be very attractive."
The city has about 2,000 youths and 1,000 adults who play soccer year-round, he said.
Players and leagues will be drawn to the field because it is a level surface. So, unlike natural fields, it will not have gopher holes, slopes or patches of dead grass, Anthony said.
An official opening for the sports complex will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 5. Festivities will include a ribbon cutting and exhibition soccer and flag football games.
Like other nearby cities, Antioch's turf fields have to be rented for use.
Antioch set its use fees last week. They are $50 an hour for youth that live in the city and $60 for nonresidents. For adults, field use is $60 an hour for residents and $70 for nonresidents.
Using lights with the fields is an additional $15 an hour.
The rates were set following discussions with groups that will use the field and a survey of rates charged by six nearby Northern California cities, city officials said.
The fees will be used for field maintenance and eventual replacement of the turf, Anthony said.
"(The cost) will be a bit of a challenge in figuring out how to manage it, but we'll try to utilize them the best we can," Bonwell said.
The field improvements were funded by Measure WW, a 2010 tax collected by the East Bay Regional Park District and distributed to different cities. Turf fields were the overwhelming pick of residents throughout the study process.
East Contra Costa County has seen a growing demand for places to play soccer over the past decade, particularly because of the increase in residents from Latin American countries where it is popular and its appeal to players of all ages and both genders.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.