Turf football fields are helping the neighboring Dublin City School District save on maintenance costs and rake in new revenues -- a model Olentangy turf advocates hope to replicate.

Turf football fields are helping the neighboring Dublin City School District save on maintenance costs and rake in new revenues -- a model Olentangy turf advocates hope to replicate.

Members of the Olentangy turf committee say the new fields, tentatively set to be installed after the fall football season, will pay for themselves in the long term.

Turf averts the maintenance costs associated with grass fields and generates new revenue because the durable surface can handle more games and events, advocates say.

According to current plans, the district's athletic booster groups will fully fund the installation of the fields without financial help from the district.

The district will be responsible for replacing the fields in the future -- about once every 10 years -- but turf proponents say those costs will be covered.

The Dublin school district hasn't had to replace any of its three turf fields yet. One was installed in 2004 and the others were installed in 2006.

District Public Information Officer Doug Baker said the costs of replacing the turf fields -- about $300,000 each -- easily will be covered by the new revenue generated by extra usage.

When Dublin had grass fields, only varsity football games were played in the stadiums because the surfaces couldn't stand up to more frequent use. Now, the stadiums host lacrosse, field hockey, junior varsity football and more, generating ticket revenue that wasn't possible when the games were played on practice fields.

The district also benefits by renting out the stadiums for tournament games and other events such as band competitions.

Olentangy turf advocates envision a similar model to replace turf fields in the district.

Mike Bull, a turf committee leader, said charging $5 for entry to all football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey games could pull in an extra $30,000 per year for each of the district's three high schools.

The district's athletics directors estimate turf fields could be used up to 250 times per year for sports alone, up from the current average of 45 annual uses.

Over 10 years -- the average replacement cycle for a turf field -- ticket sales could generate the $300,000 needed for new turf without even factoring in other opportunities to rent out the fields, nor savings on maintenance, Bull said.

Additionally, he estimated each high school eventually could save about $25,000 each year on labor and materials currently used for maintenance.

Combined, each school could expect to generate $550,000 over the course of a decade, easily covering the replacement cost for each field, he said.

Those estimates may be conservative compared with savings and revenues generated at other institutions, including Ohio State University, which uses turf in its football stadium, Bull said.

"We think we're really underestimating the revenue streams that we could see after these fields are in," he said.

The district would decide how to use surplus revenue.

The money potentially could be used to cover athletic costs, providing some relief for booster groups during the fundraising season.

A plan to install turf fields at all three of the district's high schools was put on hold June 20 when the school board rejected a joint-financing plan proposed by the turf committee, forcing booster groups to shoulder the burden of funding all three fields at high interest rates.

The committee now is targeting November for installation of the fields, immediately after the football season.

Board members objected to co-signing on a loan, but none ever questioned the turf committee's financial plan for field replacement.