The multimillion-dollar, privately funded athletic facility proposed in Oakwood Ohio highlights the growing use of artificial turf in high school sports.
The estimated $2.5 million project includes a synthetic turf field, 8-lane regulation track, restrooms and 1,000-seat capacity bleachers. It would be built on what is now the parking lot of the Old River Sports Complex and would serve an estimated 400 student athletes, as well as members of the community.
“One of the big reasons we’re looking at this project is to give us some options, some places to go to play, to practice, so that’s a really big benefit to this program,” said Oakwood High School Athletic and Student Activities Director Joy Manning.
An artificial turf field would help the athletics department limit the amount of cancellations due to a soaked field, according to Manning.
“If you do get a lot of rain, and there’s no footing or the field is so muddy … the ball just doesn’t play well and it’s a safety issue,” she said.
Centerville City Schools converted Legacy Field, the soccer and lacrosse field, from natural grass to artificial turf earlier this month. The $530,000 spent on the project also came from private funds.
“The night that we opened the turf, it stormed – a lot of rain – and we were still playing that evening. We would not have played had it been natural grass,” said Centerville City Schools Athletic Director Rob Dement.
The Centerville football team has been playing on artificial turf for about nine years, according to Dement. He said playing on artificial turf can be somewhat safer because there aren’t inconsistencies. He also said teams that don’t play on artificial turf fields could face a disadvantage later in the season.
“Once you reach a certain level in tournament play, all games are on turf,” Dement added.
Springboro has two synthetic turf fields – one for football and one for soccer. Kettering has an artificial turf football field. Miamisburg aims to break ground on an synthetic turf field later this fall.
Oakwood’s Manning said an artificial turf field would also alleviate some of the pressure that the addition of boys lacrosse as a varsity sport has put on already limited space.
“Lacrosse starts very early in the year. We’re still in basketball season when that’s going on. So if the weather isn’t nice outside, the only place there is to practice lacrosse is inside,” she explained. “That makes the practices for lacrosse or baseball or softball or really any of those spring sports really late at night.”
The Oakwood Athletic Boosters Association kicked off its public fundraising campaign on Tuesday to raise the remaining $770,000 of the estimated $2.5 million it would cost to build the facility. It has raised more than two-thirds of the estimated cost through pledges from about 20 donors.
The group hopes to reach its fundraising goal by the end of 2015, and begin construction sometime in 2016.
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