Soccer players could be stepping onto a new field at Waunakee High School in the near future, now that the planning for an improved Warrior Soccer Stadium is gaining momentum.
The school district decided to move ahead with the project’s design phase last week.
“One of the things we’ve taken a look at is our timeline with regards to the soccer-field project,” said superintendent Randy Guttenberg. “At this point, we need to have some design work done… That allows us to move the project forward.”
Rettler Corporation has been contracted to draw up designs, and is being asked to prepare two options for the new playing field – one with a grass turf, and the other with artificial turf.
“The first option requires regrading the entire site,” Rettler’s president John Kneer said, “bringing in new soil and putting in an underdrain system to address irrigation…The second option is installing a synthetic-turf field over the existing topsoil.”
As part of the master planning, Rettler performed a cost estimate for each option earlier this year.
The company determined that replacement of the grass turf would cost approximately $800,000. Installing a synthetic field would cost the school district an estimated $1.275 million.
“There’s a level of risk that is established when we’re developing these fields,” Kneer said, “as well as how you want it to perform and what level of play you want it to accommodate…Budget often has a lot to do with what type of field is selected.”
Superintendent Randy Guttenberg said the district faced a similar decision in the early 2000s, when the field was originally built, and that the school board went with a less-expensive option.
That decision effectively paved the way for future complications, he said.
“Part of it was budget-driven,” Guttenberg said. “There were costs that came in late, from my understanding. And then there were some bids which were accepted that were low, but didn’t necessarily address some of the long-term needs. And that’s what we’re dealing with today.”
Athletic Director Aaron May voiced support for installing synthetic turf inside the stadium, pointing to the need for a field capable of withstanding heavy usage.
“One of the things with the soccer field is that it’s used continuously throughout the year,” May said. “Girls use it in the spring, and the boys come back on it in August. So there’s only about six weeks of downtime, between the girls getting ready for state and the boys starting practice.”
He said its constant use doesn’t allow for the kind of maintenance required with a grass field.
“There’s no real downtime on the soccer field,” May said. “The grounds crew has most of the fall to hit the baseball and softball field hard in terms of top dressing, slit seeding and any kind of aeration they need to do. There’s not time to do all that with soccer, which exacerbates issues.”
The district’s superintendent said the time to decide is at least a few months down the road, though, and that the design process is what those involved in the project should focus on now.
“We’d probably make a decision in the spring with regards to the direction that we would potentially go in,” Guttenberg said. “But the first step is really moving ahead with the field-design piece, which is essential no matter which direction this project goes.”