will get a new, $1 million artificial turf field at its stadium after the school board approved the measure by a 7-0 vote Monday night.
"It's time," board member Jim Yarosh said. "I think it's good for the kids, it's good for the community."
Athletic director Andy 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 month. “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.
The district will pass a special levy to fund the new field. For the owner of a home valued at $250,000, this means a bump in annual taxes by $6 over 10 years, said district finance director Sandy Salin. Some costs could be offset if the district gets any financial backing from the city or is able to occasionally rent the field out to private groups.
Ewald said he expects the new field to be installed in time for next school year's fall sports season.