Stalder Field at DMB Bank Stadium is in need of a makeover after years of use have deteriorated the playing surface.
An effort has been started to raise the funds needed to put field turf in at the stadium.
“I feel like it would provide more opportunities for more kids and more teams if we had a turf field,” DeForest athletic director Mike McHugh said. “Right now, we have to really guard who is playing on the field because we want to keep it in decent playing condition. When we have bad weather, we have to limit who plays on it and sometimes we have to move games.”
Putting in the turf surface was once included on the recently passed school district referendum, but it was taken out for the final proposal.
A committee that includes McHugh, varsity girls soccer coach Tim Esser, football assistant coach Mark Olson and representatives from youth organizations began working on raising funds after getting the go-ahead from the DeForest School board on April 22.
“We went to the school board and they agreed to come up with half of the money,” committee member Todd Grundahl said.
The committee is estimating a cost of about $950,000, which includes the turf field and a video scoreboard at the stadium. The school board has agreed to commit $475,000 for the project.
The rest of the money will come from donations and anchor sponsors.
“Our goal is to get the word out and get to as many individuals, business and alumni that we can get, to find out if this is even possible,” Grundahl said. “We are looking for anchor sponsors. They would have a logo on the field and the video board is there to have more opportunities for them to be recognized.”
The anchor sponsors would give $50,000 in the first year and $25,000 the following two years.
The committee has created different levels of contributing to the projects from the All-American Sponsors, which are the anchor sponsors, all the way down to Norski level sponsors of $1,000.
There is a quick timeline if the field is going to be ready in the fall for football and boys soccer. The committee will have to come up with the $475,000 to place the order by May 15 in order for it to be ready in time.
Even if they do not meet the May 15 deadline, the committee will continue to raise the money until the project can move forward.
“Our goal is to be ready for the next school board meeting on May 13,” Grundahl said. “If we get there, we get there. If we don’t, we are going to keep pushing.”
The current field conditions have caused scheduling problems and injury concerns.
Over the last few years, boys and girls soccer have had to cancel and move numerous games in the fall and spring.
“From a girls soccer standpoint, what happens in the fall between football and boys soccer, we feel the brunt of it in the spring time,” Esser said. “Then you add all the problems from the snow that melts on it. The last few years, we have had to schedule our first game to be played at Madison College. The boys had a conference championship game moved last year.”
Esser also had to deal with several of his players suffering serious knee injuries on the field in the last two seasons.
“In the back of your mind you have to wonder if the field played a role in the injuries,” Esser said. “It is tough because when we play the first few games at home and make divots, the field dries out and all the hard divots are still there and it is really tough to play on.”
A turf field would also alleviate some of the practice issues coaches have to deal with when their practice fields are not playable.
“One thing it does allow, because of the lights in the stadium, is that we can run more than one practice during the spring and fall,” McHugh said. “You could have a football practice followed by a soccer practice or vice versa. We have had practices canceled in football because the practice field is under water and the soccer team has had to move practices to the turf at Madison College.”
Esser agrees that the practice space would be welcome.
“In the spring time, especially when we are dealing with snow, we are stuck in the gym,” Esser said. “Soccer and lacrosse are completely useless inside the gym. So, if we can get on a turf field that would create a big advantage for us.”
Norski football coach Mike Minick thinks the turf would add to an already topnotch stadium.
“We have one of the nicest facilities in the state and turf would really add to our stadium,” Minick said. “It would insure that our athletes are playing their games on a surface that is fast, game ready and safe regardless of conditions. We strive to be one of the top programs in the state and we are extremely fortunate to be able to play games here. Adding turf would be incredible. It is another opportunity for our community to show their pride in our school district.”
Having the turf field would also open up the availability of the stadium for not only high school programs, like girls and boys lacrosse who only get to play one game a year on the field, and youth organizations, along with the high school band.
“Our vision is to allow events like youth soccer tournaments, lacrosse, youth football and the band to use the field more,” McHugh said. “It will give a lot more people in our community the ability to use the space.”
Minick agrees that the benefit to the community is a huge driving force.
“The biggest benefit is more students will be able to compete in our stadium regardless of the weather,” Minick said. “Our district is growing. Turf would allow more high school programs to play their games here. Having turf would allow teams to practice when Wisconsin weather is not cooperating. It will also benefit our youth programs as they will be able to play at DMB as well.”
The committee will be setting up a fundraising platform on Classmunity.com to allow people to donate to the project.
Those wishing to donate can also send a check to Mike McHugh at DeForest High School, 815 Jefferson St.