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School Board OKs New Turf Field for High School

The field is expected to be ready for use by next fall.

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.

Joe January 25, 2012 at 02:55 AM
As a football coach, of course Ewald's focus is on a field. Some would like him and the board to take a closer look at the the inadequate swimming facilities, especially since Park has been building a championship tradition in both boys and girls swimming over the last six years. Oh, and also take a look at the abysmal conditions for the girls' gymnastics team.
jim January 30, 2012 at 08:22 AM
Andy couldnt look beyond the brochure from the turf salesman and neither could the school board. I wasnt an economics major, but we are in a recession. What is the worst thing you can do in a recession? Raise taxes. The value of my house has gone down 25% in the last 3 years. Meanshile, taxes have only gone up. Usually, if somebody got sick of the taxation, they could just move. Not with the housing collapse. A lot of people are underwater on their mortgage and cant move even if they wanted to.
jim January 30, 2012 at 08:23 AM
I did some checking and we ARENT the only ones that dont have turf. I found 20 other schools in the metro area that had a natural surface. So saying that everybody else has it isnt an arguement. It was also argued that the turf would bring up the level of play for the team. If that is all it took to win games, why didnt we invest in a dome with a retractable roof so we can winn all the championships from now on. If my memory serves me right, turf hasnt worked real well for the Vikings. Turf is not all it is cracked up to be. I know we are the only team in the conference with grass, but I consider that a great home field advantage.
jim January 30, 2012 at 08:23 AM
That leads into my next point. In the last NFL players Assn survey, over 82% of the players said that they preferred to play on grass because it was more forgiving to injury. In that same survey, the players were asked what contributed most to the poor conditions. An overwhelming majority said it was due to it being a multi-use field. Turf has been proven to produce more injuries. In a 2006 article from the American Journal of Sports Medicine, it found in a study of California high school football players that there was 13.8 injuries on turf vs 8.4 injuries on grass per 100 hours played. Then there are the MRSA's. These are rug burns that take a long time to heal and can even abcess in the process due to its resistance to antibiotics. Heat injuries would also be a problem with turf. Turf has no way of naturally cooling itself. A 2002 Brigham Young University study found that on a day when the ambient temperature was 81.42 degF, the turf averaged 117.38 degF while grass was 78.19 degF. I was at the last meeting. I posed several options to the Board. Everything from investing more into field care ($5000) to a completely new sand cap based field ($300000). I found a "happy" medium with recapping existing fields and giving them proper drainage ($20000). Saint Louis Park has over 30 fields that can be used for youth games or practice fields. If you recapped all of them, that would just be over half of the $1000000+ price tag on the turf stadium.

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