Conservative estimates put the cost to install a turf field at DMB Stadium at $900,000 to $1.2 million.
“As we move forward, we’ll have more solid numbers, but this gives us a good basis to start,” said Kathleen Davis-Phillips, director of business and auxiliary services for the DeForest Area School District.
On Monday, Feb. 10, the DeForest Area School Board went over potential sources of funding for the project, as outside fundraising efforts have generated $101,000 to offset some of those costs.
District officials are looking at different options and features. No action was taken on the matter at Monday’s school board meeting, but it appears school officials believe it would be difficult to stick with a grass field.
“Realistically, for us to repair the field, we would have to stay off of it for a year,” said Superintendent Eric Runez.
School officials are seeking board approval to move forward with bidding the project. It is expected the board will consider a budget amendment to pay for the project at its Feb. 24 meeting – at which time, there will be an update on pricing. Awarding a bid will come later, followed by project coordination and its start, with installation anticipated in the spring and summer of this year.
Runez said increased usage of the field by athletic programs and the high school marching band is the most beneficial part of the plan.
“I think we’ll see a tremendous increase in accessibility,” said Runez.
Officials are assuming that 91,000 square feet of turf will be needed, along with base work site preparation and excavation, stormwater construction and costs for soil removal and engineering.
There will be striping for multiple sports, including football, soccer and lacrosse. Dave O’Mara, buildings and grounds manager, said the marks are made of water-based paint and they come right off when needed. It is also expected that there will be rotating goal posts, so there is less interference for lacrosse and soccer.
As for the turf itself, it is expected that woven turf will be used. As an alternative to tufted turf, the use of woven turf is expected to increase the useful life of the field, according to a turf funding plan recommendation put together for Monday’s meeting. It’s had good testing results, according to O’Mara, who added that it leads to low amounts of abrasions.
A shock pad, with all-natural infill as alternative to rubber, is also part of the project. O’Mara said it reduces concussions. It adds about $120,000 to the project, but its rating is close to grass fields as far as preventing head injuries goes and it also makes the field more level, said O’Mara. O’Mara explained that it is made of the same material as Tupperware and while the actual turf may need replacing in 10-15 years, as opposed to three years for sod or grass fields, the life of the shock pad will extend through the life cycles of at least two turf fields.
Standard lettering for the end zones and a logo is also expected, along with three on-field communication boxes and conduits that will also be used for track timing.
Some other possible features were not included. Among them were a possible drive addition for emergency access to the field from the southwest, pavement costs for the high jump area and relocation of the pole vault set-up, lighting and other electrical work, additional customization of letters and logos, and other unforeseen costs due to unknown site issues.
Another $15,000 could go for maintenance equipment.
The school district has already committed to paying $475,000 of the project. It could also contribute anywhere from $0 to $300,000 more if the project exceeds $900,000.
Davis-Phillips reported on $350,000 in Fund 10 of this 2019-20 budget being available for one-time projects such as this.
According to the Turf Funding Recommendation Plan, the additional funds come from a few staffing positions going unfulfilled for a portion of the year, as well as other expenditures coming in under budget.
Davis-Phillips said, “We can comfortably say we could set aside money for the project.”
Safety is a big concern. School Board Vice President Steve Tenpas said that turf will allow junior varsity and freshmen teams to play on it. Tenpas explained that most of the time they have to play on surfaces that aren’t as safe as the varsity field.
Even though costs are an issue, Davis-Phillips feels this might not be the time to go cheap.
“I do think we should invest more upfront,” said Davis-Phillips. “I think it will help with safety and long-term costs.”