London High School considers artificial turf


(Posted Oct. 16, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London City Schools leaders are exploring the possibility of replacing the high school stadium’s natural grass football field with artificial turf and conducting a community fundraising campaign to pay for it.

The durability of artificial turf would allow the field to be used more often, not only by London students but also by the community and outside groups looking for a facility for special events, said Jimmy Wolverton, athletic director.

Currently, the field is used 15 to 18 hours per week in the fall and goes virtually unused in the spring. Wolverton estimates that with artificial turf, the field could be used 35 to 40 hours per week in the fall and could see significant use in the spring.

With the artificial turf, practice space would be less of an issue and more teams could play on a field equipped with concessions and restroom facilities. The marching band would have somewhere other than the parking lot to practice. Baseball and softball could practice on the turf when weather makes their fields unusable. The field could provide another venue for physical education classes.

Artificial turf also could help the district land hosting gigs for regional and state sports and marching band contests, as well rental contracts for other events.

Another benefit to artificial turf is lower maintenance costs. Wolverton said the district spends $12,000 to $15,000 per year on maintenance and painting of the natural grass field. The estimated cost to maintain artificial turf is $1,400 per year, he said.

The early cost estimate to install an artificial turf field is $600,000. The life expectancy is 10 years, at which time the cost to replace the turf layer would be roughly half the original installation cost, Wolverton said.

Dr. Louis Kramer, the district’s superintendent, said that most school districts fund the bulk of an artificial turf installation through fundraising. Marvin Homan, school board president, said he has put feelers out to potential donors and said they are receptive to the idea. They like that the field could be used by community groups, to host championship games, to better serve London students, and to better accommodate not just athletics but other interests, like marching band, he said.

“I think there is a lot of momentum for raising funds and making this project a reality,” Homan said. “I think the support would be there.”

Should the district move forward with the project, Kristine Blind, district treasurer, said she would recommend setting up a separate fund for covering the cost of maintenance of the field and the eventual replacement of the turf.

Kramer said the project idea will be brought to the board for further discussion at the Oct. 20 school board meeting. If the board decides to give the project the greenlight, then a timeline will be established for fundraising and project completion, he said. According to Wolverton, installation takes 45 to 60 days.

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