The St. Louis Park School Board took another step toward getting a new, artificial turf field at the on Monday.
By a 7-0 vote, the board approved a bid from Peterson Companies, Inc., out of Chisago Lakes for roughly $860,000 that will pay for the turf field. After additional labor costs are included, the project will cost roughly $1 million.
For the owner of a $250,000 home in St. Louis Park, this will mean about $6.50 in new taxes annually over the next decade.
The high school will get a field made by FieldTurf, a company that athletic director Andy Ewald called an industry leader.
"FieldTurf is the 800-pound gorilla in the turf business," he said.
Super Bowl XLVI in February was held on a FieldTurf field in Indianapolis.
Ewald has said the new field is needed because a lack of space causes St. Louis Park teams to overuse and tear up the school's various grass fields—making them potentially unsafe for athletes.
That includes the high school's stadium field. Though it only gets used about 60 hours every year for football, soccer and lacrosse, as well as graduation, the grass can’t take the wear and tear of more events. A sturdier, synthetic field should see about 3,000 hours of use annually, Ewald projected, opening it up to more games and practices, as well as community events and potential usage from other local schools, such as .
Ewald also pointed to a competitive disadvantage for St. Louis Park teams, noting that nearby schools such as Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina have at least one artificial turf field.
“For the St. Louis Park community, the thought of a synthetic field at the stadium is no longer a luxury,” Ewald said at a meeting last year. “It is a long-overdue necessity.”
A number of community members—including representatives of several St. Louis Park sports teams—have voiced support for the new field.
Nick Shaughnessy, a junior on the St. Louis Park football team, said on Monday that he and his teammates are "excited" for the new field, noting that they should be able to have better practices and be more competitive with other schools that regularly play on artificial turf.
Installation of the new field is expected to begin shortly after this year's graduation ceremony. The field should be ready for use in time for the 2012 fall sports season.