Field of Champions committee members and donors broke ground Tuesday on the new turf field at San Marcos High School in Goleta that is expected to be completed for the fall.

The gathering of numerous committee members, student representatives and individuals who have contributed to the project attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Sut Puialoa Field, where removal of the old field has already begun.

Field of Champions committee co-chairman Tim Vom Steeg said the field will be the finest on the Central Coast when it’s finished.

“I’ve known the field has been a problem for eight years, since my kids have been going to (San Marcos High),” said Rich Ridway, Field of Champions committee co-chairman and contractor for the new field. “Foremost, the problem is about safety for the kids, because right now there are gopher holes and areas of hard ground that can cause injuries.

“The important thing about the turf field is that it really pays for itself over time. There’s no watering, no mowing, fertilizing or striping to deal with. The maintenance costs are cut to almost nothing for the 10 to 12 years that the turf field will last.”

The partnership of the Field of Champions committee and the Santa Barbara Soccer Club was forged to help raise funds for a field that would eliminate safety hazards and improve the usage of the field. The old field required a lot of down time because of water damage and overall wear-and-tear from football and soccer. The turf field will allow the school and community to use it without any of these problems.

“It’s not only going to benefit San Marcos, but the whole community as well, because it can be used regularly by all teams,” San Marcos ASB president Will Lorenzen said. “I’m on the baseball team, and right now the football and soccer teams use our field when this one is trashed. The new field opens up more time not only for the baseball team on the baseball field, but for all teams to use the turf field.”

The committee spent time fundraising to cover the cost of the new turf field and remodeled track area. Donations and grants also played a big role, according to San Marcos Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy, including a donation of $500,000 by the Warkentin family.

More than $1 million has been raised so far, and the committee is still accepting donations to reach its goal of $1,050,000. Click here to donate or for more information about the field.

Noozhawk intern Kristin Crosier can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.