TURF TALK: G-C mulling options for adding artificial turf to soccer field

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Greenfield-Central’s girls soccer team took on New Palestine during a home match last September. The Greenfield-Central school board is investigating how much it would cost to add artificial turf to the Cougars’ home field.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central school board is looking into the cost of adding artificial turf to the high school’s main soccer field.

It’s been nearly seven years since the corporation transformed the high school’s football field from real grass to artificial turf, a decision Superintendent Harold Olin said has paid off in dividends ever since.

Overhauling the high school’s main soccer field and adjacent parking lot — which sits just south of McKenzie Road, north of the high school — is part of a string of projects slated to be covered by proceeds from a bond the school board sold in November.

Other future projects slated for this spring include restroom renovations at the high school, LED lighting and parking lot projects at the junior high school, and a playground at J.B. Stephens Elementary School.

Two other projects funded by the bond proceeds are already underway — a security camera upgrade and expansion at Maxwell Intermediate and Weston Elementary schools, and an LED lighting replacement project at the high school, the latter of which is 90% complete.

The board decided this month to move forward with soliciting requests for artificial turf project estimates to gauge how much the soccer field project would cost.

Olin said the school system paid close to $1 million to resurface the high school’s football field with artificial turf in the summer of 2017.

“I would imagine the soccer field will be in the same ballpark as the football field,” said the high school’s athletic director, Jared Manning.

Both he and Olin said the soccer field overhaul would likely be as beneficial for the school and community as the football field project has been.

Greenfield-Central’s girls soccer team took on New Palestine during a home match last September. The Greenfield-Central school board is investigating how much it would cost to add artificial turf to the Cougars’ home field. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

“The addition of turf at our football field has made a positive impact on many of our programs here at GC,” said Manning, who said the main benefit is enhancing the field’s safety and playability.

“Adding a turf field at our soccer complex would allow use nearly year-round and would eliminate the need for rescheduling games or canceling practice due to an unplayable surface following heavy rains like we have seen in the past few years,” he said.

“Knowing that we have a safe and consistent surface for our teams to play and practice on is a great benefit (at the football field) … It really has given us a level of flexibility and usage that we did not have before.”

Olin said the football field’s artificial turf has benefited much more than just the high school football program.

Before the artificial turf was added, “the football field was sort of sacred ground. We didn’t practice on it very much because we wanted to keep it in pristine shape, but when it’s artificial turf you can run practices there, you can get your junior high and middle school kids out there. Our marching bands and PE classes use it throughout the year. It changes the field into a curriculum space,” said Olin.

“I think we’ll find the same will be true of the soccer field, that we’ll be able to use it a lot more,” he said.

Artificial turf would also be a great benefit to the high school’s boys and girls soccer teams, said Olin.

“We’re in the competitive Hoosier Heritage Conference, where many of the schools are very good,” he said.

“Getting artificial turf will allow us to play on it a lot more and keep it in playing condition regardless of weather, keeping it at the right softness and preventing ruts that can become hazardous,” said Olin, who has seen the community’s passion for soccer grow steadily throughout his 10 years as superintendent.

“The love of soccer in our community has increased quite a bit when you consider the number of kids playing travel soccer and look at the rec leagues we have at Brandywine Park,” he said, in addition to the popularity of Greenfield-Central’s high school soccer program.

Olin said the proposed artificial turf project at the high school’s competition field is evidence of the school system’s ongoing commitment to its student programs overall.

“One of the things I value about Greenfield-Central is we want to make sure we put our best food forward with all our programs. That’s why we put in a brand new greenhouse for our FFA program, added some rooms for the music program, added seating to our natatorium and created a new auditorium,” he said.

As far as athletics are considered, Olin said the school board continues to consider ways to utilize a 92-acre parcel of land the school system owns just west of the high school. A few options include creating a sports complex there, which could potentially include baseball and softball fields and tennis courts.

“We’ve committed to take a look at what that may look like for us … but you don’t do all those things at once,” said Olin.

“We’re finding ways to make our tennis courts productive for us for hopefully another couple of years, then we’d like to move those over to those 92 acres and the baseball fields at some point too,” he said.

For now, all eyes on the soccer field, where the high school boys and girls teams play each fall.

“I think we will definitely see an increase in usage at our soccer complex if turf is added. From our high school teams to local soccer clubs, I believe this will be a very positive addition to our facilities here at GCHS,” said Manning.

“It is no secret that soccer is important in Greenfield and the surrounding area and it continues to grow. We look forward to our continued partnership with our local soccer clubs to continue moving our players and the game forward.”