A committee is formulating a plan to change Highland High School’s football stadium playing surface from natural grass to artificial turf, as well as other upgrades to the facility, that could have a final cost close to $1 million.
The Highland Community Turf Committee is a group of Highland area citizens, businesses, coaches, alumni and boosters who are working in cooperation with the city of Highland and the Highland School District.
“I envision this project being a beautification of the Troxler campus,” said Steve Lanxon, who is the coordinator of the Highland Community Turf Project. “When you drive down Troxler now, the city has the nice light poles, and they’ve got the banners up. Then you put the turf field there, and a beautiful, first-class campus can really attract young families to the community. It would look very impressive. We would like to put new fencing up, too, and just make it a beautiful, state-of-the-art complex.”
Laxon, a former HHS football coach and athletic director, said there would be many uses beyond football. The plan is for the field to be used on an everyday basis between the school and the community, including weekends. Other high school teams, physical education classes, the marching band, non-school clubs and teams and community organizations would all be expected to use the field. It could also be rented out to private groups, Lanxon said.
“There are a lot of things you could do to, not only fund other projects, but also to maintain that facility in the future,” Lanxon said. “We’d like to upgrade the press box, and we’d like to put a video board at the stadium, which would be another opportunity for advertisement. So it can also be a vehicle to raise money for our school district and our city for our sports programs.”
The current plan would have improvements divided into two phases. First would be the installation of a multi-purpose synthetic field surface, new public restrooms and concession, and a new entrance to the stadium. Then second phase would consist of locker room renovations and expansion.
Lanxon said they would also like to have enough money to redo the entrance way with new fencing and even add an extension into the parking lot area.
“We have lofty goals, maybe too lofty, but certainly we would stretch every dollar as far as we can and see if we can something cool for the kids of our community; that is what it’s all about,” he said.
Highland School Board members Aaron Schuster and Robert Miller, who fellow board members appointed as point persons on the project, are researching the advantages and disadvantages of turf and plan to report back to the full Board at the board meeting on Aug. 28.
“The board will then decide whether to give authority to move forward with pursuing revenue to pay for the project,” said Highland Superintendent Michel Sutton. “The district’s position has been to incur no cost for the project if it is pursued.”
Highland City Manager Mark Latham said the city would be involved in helping to maintain the artificial surface, which would most likely include purchasing an artificial turf rake and possibly an artificial turf vacuum.
If the district wants the field finished for the 2018-2019 school year, a decision would need to be made before Christmas.
The plan is to pay for the synthetic turf primarily through on-field advertisement, as well as private and business donations and various community organizations.
No money from the school district or the city would be used for the project.
The cost of the turf field is estimated at $775,000.
Lanxon said renovations to the locker rooms would have an estimated cost of $200,000.
“We need to get our locker rooms redone and expanded, because the locker rooms are really tight right now,” Lanxon said. “We don’t have enough space for all of the kids. We don’t have the proper dressing facilities and shower facilities.”
Lanxon said companies are looking to get their name and products in front of the area youth, young parents and young families, and a good vessel for that is through advertising at a high school sports venue where thousands of people come every year.
Without even publicly seeking advertising money, the fundraising off to a good start as ApexNetwork Physical Therapy in Highland already pledged $25,000 for eight years. That is a grand total of $200,000, which would make them a Diamond Level Sponsor.
“We have got a good start, but we still have a long way to go as far as getting the money together,” Lanxon said. “… But, if we would get another three or four more like that, we would have it made. I have not even went out seeking advertisers yet, we are just waiting on the approval from the Highland School Board.”
Lanxon said the warranty on the turf field is good for eight years, while the turf field itself should have a lifespan of 10-12 years before it would have to be replaced. The cost to resurface would be much less expensive than the original project, but still would be about $450,000, Laxon said. When it’s time to resurface in 10 years, much of the expense to do that can come from reselling advertisement. The district would save thousands of dollars in maintenance cost on the field which could be put aside to resurface also.
Two companies that submitted bids for the job, ATG and Byrne and Jones, said they could have the artificial turf field side of the project completed in about 60-70 days.
To handle the locker room renovations, Todd Korte volunteered his design team from The Korte Co. to look at it and how they can be expanded and improved upon.
“They have been very generous with their time and expertise,” Lanxon said of The Korte Co.
Lanxon said a an inspiration for the turf project was the way the city, the school district and Plocher Construction Co. worked together to get the tennis courts done.
“It’s a beautiful facility, and what we’ve seen more and more within towns is that instead of everybody duplicating facilities, schools and the city governments are working together to build city parks with facilities that can be utilized by both the high school and the city,” he said.