By Sue Botos
The school board recently honored the Rocky River High School girls’ soccer team for their state championship. But the turf on which they made history will soon be a memory.
At its last legislative session of 2013, the school board unanimously voted to enter into a contract with FieldTurf, a Tarkett Sports subsidiary, for the lease/purchase of new turf at the high school stadium.
Board Treasurer Greg Markus said that because the district is purchasing the turf as part of a co-op, the American Educational Purchasing Association, it was unnecessary for the board to put the project up for public bidding.
“They (AEPA) bid it out so it saved us time and money,” Markus said of the $475,000 job. He added that the work will be financed through a seven-year lease/purchase agreement with PNC Bank. The last payment for the current turf, installed in 2003, was made in December.
During previous sessions, the board had discussed wear and tear on the field, which human resources Director Sam Gifford noted has increased dramatically over the years. “Usage has spiked. It’s used seven days a week,” Gifford stated. Recently, an additional request for field time came from a group of rugby backers who want to start a high-school-level team in the city.
Superintendent Michael Shoaf added that the surface has become so worn that it sometimes tears during routine maintenance, such as raking.
The original turf field cost about $700,000 because it was a “from the ground up” project, which replaced sod. An old sand base will be replaced with layers of sand and rubber, which, according to board members, better mimics actual turf, and has proven to be safer than a completely rubber foundation. “This is an evolved product. It’s the best way to go,” commented board member Jay Milano.
Shoaf added that the netting that holds the turf is designed to help athletes’ spikes dig into the surface. “Shaker (Heights High) has it and can’t say enough about it,” he commented. Shoaf added that the turf is of a high quality and not just sewn together, but rather fitted and glued for fewer seams. Athletes will not need to purchase new shoes to accommodate the surface, he added.
The board is currently working with coaches and the athletics department on a schedule for the work, which is expected to begin after the end of the spring track and field season, and take about four weeks. If necessary, the board noted that some track events could be held at the middle school or other venues.
According to FieldTurf regional sales manager Bob McKeiver, consideration will be taken when it comes to the recently installed track, which circles the stadium playing field. He told the board at its December meeting that a bridge made of Styrofoam and steel plating would be installed to give workers access to the turf area. “Seventy percent of the fields we (build) are inside tracks,” he noted.
In addition, McKeiver said that trucks will reach the work area by a Detroit Road construction entrance, and not use the new parking area. “The removal and replacement of the old material is a simple process,” he stated.