The New Albany High School Athletic Boosters announced last week the club has raised enough money to install artificial turf at the high school stadium.
The boosters club reported it raised $623,000, with another $23,500 committed, during a four-year fundraising campaign. The estimated cost to install the new playing surface, which will be called Veterans Field, is $600,000.
The school board voted Sept. 24 to accept the donation of "a 100 percent privately funded and completed artificial turf field to be installed in the New Albany High School stadium and the accompanying eight-year warranty."
Boosters club member Stuart Burgdoerfer told the New Albany-Plain Local school board the turf could be installed after this football season and be ready for use in the spring. It could be used for extracurricular activities and various sports in addition to football, according to the boosters club.
Burgdoerfer estimated the district will save $20,000 to $25,000 in annual maintenance costs because the artificial turf will not require mowing, fertilizing and watering.
The field is expected to last for 10 years and could cost an estimated $300,000 to replace, he said.
The boosters said they would contribute $15,000 annually to a turf-replacement fund held by the district. The board accepted the annual commitment and agreed to include maintenance-cost savings in the fund as well.
The boosters club also requested the field be named Veterans Field and asked that all veterans be admitted free to sporting events at the stadium.
Ken Krebs, who with his wife, Jackie, gave $150,000 to the turf campaign, said both their fathers served in the military and they wanted the district to acknowledge and honor veterans.
The school board accepted the name along with the stipulation that veterans would be admitted free.
The boosters club began its fundraising campaign in 2008.
Burgdoerfer praised 2008 booster President Eileen Pewitt and club members who raised $200,000 that year. He said the second phase of the campaign began in the spring of 2012 and the boosters club, under President Tim Cline, was able to raise the remaining funds needed.
Board member Natalie Matt said the boosters provided a good model for students, exhibiting "hard work, leadership, teamwork" and gratitude for veterans who have made sacrifices for their country.
Board Vice President Mike Klein asked how the turf will be protected and asked if policies need to be changed to allow other groups to use the field.
Superintendent April Domine said the administration sets guidelines for field usage and hours of operation.
Policies regarding the field and its security may also need to be discussed, she said.
"We already have had preliminary discussions to make sure we can protect this incredible gift and the larger campus itself," said Ken Stark, the district's director of operations.