Transition to Turf
Private funding aids in financing of new fields
Kent Riggs wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The funds spent on the new artificial turf at Canal Winchester High School are from private sources, not from the district finances.
The school's athletics director believes that is a common misconception with the project, which was slated to be completed earlier in the week, weather-permitting.
"This isn't a tax-payer project. It's not from school dollars. I can't communicate that enough," said Riggs of the project by Sports Construction Group, which also installed turf at Hamilton Township, Harvest Prep and Reynoldsburg. "The financing was all from private donations. A group of athletics boosters came together last fall and had a pledge drive and it just shows that there are lots of good people in the community."
The funds for the $500,000 project, which also includes a new entrance for Mike Locke Stadium, came from community funds, as did the turf at Johnstown. Two years ago, the Chambers Foundation paid for turf to be installed in Johnstown's Frank H. Chambers Stadium by Baton Rouge-based GeoSurfaces, which also installed the turf at Hartley.
"I have been affiliated with Johnstown athletics since 1985 and we have benefited from the Chambers Foundation several times," said principal Kim Jakeway of the organization built from the family owning Tech Rubber Company in Johnstown. "The Chambers Foundation paid for the current stadium to be built in 1974 and the previous stadium at the old high school in the 1950s.
"Their latest contribution was adding the turf to the field (in 2008), which was Phase 1, and later they would like to get into Phase 2, which is adding on to the current stadium's capacity."
Westerville Central had its installation of turf completed late last month and athletics director Andy Ey said it was just the beginning of improvements throughout the district.
"This part of Capital Improvement Levy passed in May 2009 and this is just one part of it," Ey said. "If you drive by any school (in the Westerville district), you can see there are sidewalks being repaired, windows being installed, parking lots being resurfaced and other improvements to our schools. This is only one project, but this one can create revenue through rentals."
Ey said the district planned to install artificial surfaces at the two other Westerville high schools — North and South — next summer.
"People will debate and there will be detractors as well as those who love it," he said. "You'll always have that debate. The thing that you can't debate the facility is incredible."
Thomas Worthington does not have artificial surface in its stadium, but has made strides toward making that transition.
TWHS Cards Inc., the Cardinals' booster club, has raised more than $220,000 of the needed $500,000 to install the new surface. The Worthington Youth Boosters donated $25,000, but most of the money came from private donations.
"The community could use the field, too, if it were synthetic," said Dan Girard, Thomas athletics director. "There are more uses than just athletics. I could see community picnics down there on the Fourth of July. I could see alumni gatherings down there as well."
The ability to fill a community need was also important to Riggs.
"Some possibilities include being able to do a lot of things with club soccer in late fall and early spring because of the conditions on grass field at that time of the year. There are a lot of ways the field could be used," he said. "We'll let the (Recreation) Department use it so younger kids play on it as well. That was one of our selling points was that it really is going to be a community field, not just a high school field. We'll have the opportunity to have a lot more events and get a lot more people in the community involved than we would have with a grass field."