A Turf Field for the Wolves in This Economy?

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun
SOUTH KITSAP
Heading into playoff season with a 9-0 record, the South Kitsap Wolves football team would seem to have nothing standing in their way. But Coach D.J. Sigurdson says the grass field at Joe Knowles Stadium, looking these days like a mud bath, is selling the players and other South Kitsap athletes short.
South Kitsap is one of fewer than a dozen 4A schools in the state that hasn’t already converted to turf fields. Sigurdson says it’s time.
Coaches raised concerns about shortcomings of the field and other district athletic facilities during recent contract negotiations, said Ron Ness, president of the South Kitsap Coaches Association.
“Safety is an issue and making sure we can provide adequate resources for our athletes and the community,” said Ness.
With cuts to South Kitsap School District’s budget this year totaling $6.8 million, no one who uses the fields expects the district will ask voters to approve a capital facilities bond in the near future. So a facilities task force, made up of coaches, maintenance staff and community members, has taken matters into its own hands. They are seeking outside funding for a turf field and more.
At a meeting Monday, the group came up with a lengthy wish list, including upgrades to tracks and ball fields at the junior high and elementary schools, improvements and renovations to the pool, installed in the 1970s, scoreboards, lighting, public restrooms and storage.
The group agreed that district facilities should be made available for community use whenever possible.
Installation of a turf field at the high school would cost an estimated $1.7 million. The turf would need to be replaced in 10 to 12 years, but with infrastructure in place, the replacement cost would be about half the original price, said Brad Martin of Martin Victory Products of Kent, a turf manufacturer’s representative.
The high cost of installing a turf field would be offset in the long run by lower maintenance costs, said Kathleen Simpson of Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow. Her nonprofit group is coordinating with area sports clubs, local governments and other groups on the installation of turf fields throughout the county.
The annual maintenance cost on the grass field at the high school is $23,000. A turf field costs about $5,000 per year to maintain.
Turf fields present revenue opportunities, Simpson said. Her low-use estimate for one field would be about $57,000 in income for the district per year.
Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow had a hand in the recently opened fields at Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island. The Bainbridge fields were built despite opposition from a group called Plastic Fields ForNever whose members link artificial turf to lead poisoning, cancer, skin burns and injuries.
Sigurdson said he hadn’t heard of environmental or disease hazards of turf fields. Injuries were a problem in the early days of the technology, but substrate, made of ground up tires, provides a more natural playing surface, he said.

The facilities task force will meet monthly. The public is welcome. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Dec. 7. For information, contact South Kitsap High School Athletic Director Ed Santos at (360) 874-5736 or santosjr@skitsap.wednet.edu.

Take the poll on the blog homepage: Does South Kitsap need a turf field?

15 thoughts on “A Turf Field for the Wolves in This Economy?

  1. I have to question that 1.7 million figure as well. The figure being thrown around 3 years ago was 1.2 million. After the biggest price correction in our lifetime the cost to bring turf to Joe Knowles field is now 30% higher? And Bainbridge Island did it for 1 million?

  2. A turf field is definitely long overdue at South Kitsap High School. I remember playing in games where the field was in such poor condition that it posed a potential injury hazard for the players. I know that with the economy in such a poor state that installing field turf for athletics may seem frivolous and expensive, but the investment will save the community money in the long run and provide more opportunities for athletes of other sports.

  3. Karen,

    Replacing turf is far less costly than an initial install. The stadium’s drainage system will need to be fixed before the turf can be laid down. The field itself will need to be prepped for the turf, including necessary under layers and leveling. Both of those activities are very expensive.

    I think the work could be done for less than $1.7M, but I doubt we could get it done for anything less than about $1.M.

    Jeff stated well the case for the turf field being so much more than just for the high school. It opens opportunities for many community sports and other programs. The field would be usable 24/7 without concern that using it for winter soccer would leave it unusable for spring track, for example.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  4. Kathryn: I’m 100% supportive of this idea, it’s past time.

    I’m wondering about the Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow. Is that group involved with the Joe Knowles facilities taskforce? It’s not clear from the story if she’s working with the group or running a parallel campaign. Is she an SK resident? What does “..had a hand in..” mean?

  5. I have to wonder when the decision to fund turf at Gordon fields was made. Was it while we were busy attending those pretend SK regional park planning meetings?

  6. Hi Karen,

    Kathleen is a South Kitsap resident and has been involved in Fields Today Fit Tomorrow for quite some time. I don’t know if she is on the Joe Knowles task force.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  7. Thank you, Kathryn. I remember now, I may have called you once when I was trying to contact her. Did you serve on the SK Soccer Club Board at the same time?

    I think anyone who is interested in this issue should read Marietta’s story on the Education blog. 75% of young people aged 17 to 24 are unfit for military service because they’re physically unfit, they’ve dropped out of high school, or they have criminal records.

    This blog post and that blog post are related.

    I complain often and loudly about lack of facilities, rec centers, parks, and opportunity for young people, but it’s such a waste and so preventable. These are people we’re talking about. They’re not expendable, not one of them.

  8. Karen, you are correct. Sports are definitely one way in which to engage our youth in a positive way. I am also very happy to see the expansion of youth oriented programs in our area, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, as an alternative to kids who enjoy physical activities and the influence of positive adult role models but do not necessarily want to play organized sports.

  9. Karen – In answer to your questions, Kathryn Simpson of Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow shared the following with me via e-mail (not direct quotes).

    Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow is a volunteer task force created in 2007 by Washington State Youth Soccer Association District IV. Its mission is to facilitate and expedite the building of athletic fields for citizens and youth, as growth and development of Kitsap County takes place.

    Fields today worked with Kitsap County and Kitsap Public Facilities District on the Gordon Field project. One field will be built. The source of funding is the county’s capital projects fund.

    Kathleen has been involved in the task force on South Kitsap Regional Park convened by Kitsap County, which owns and operates the park. The possibility of locating a turf field at SK Park that might be owned, jointly-owned, leased or operated by the school district was discussed during brainstorming at the meeting. Discussion is very fluid right now. Possibilities should be regarded as such.

    Kathleen, noting her vested interest as a SKHS grad and parent of 2 SKHS students, said, “At this time funding is limited so I feel turf would be ideal but in reality unless there are multiple partnerships created it may not be feasible in the immediate future.”

    Kathleen, who is a CPA, attended the SKHS facilities task force meeting so she could share her experience on Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow and essentially spare the task force from having to reinvent the wheel.

    Here’s the link to Marietta’s Education Beat blog entry on fitness for military service:
    http://pugetsoundblogs.com/kitsapeducation/2009/11/04/are-too-few-young-people-fit-for-military-service/

    Chris Henry, reporter

  10. Chris,

    Your first paragraph says, “Kathryn”. It should say, “Kathleen”. Kathleen Simpson is associated with Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow. I am not. Though I admire the group’s work and support their efforts.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  11. Karen,

    Yes, Kathleen had overlapping service on the SK Soccer Club Board. Kathleen was the treasurer. I was the Mod Coaching Director and Mod Registrar during those years.

    Kathleen is a tremendous asset to our community and I value her common sense approach to issues, volunteerism, and integrity.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  12. Chris,

    Thanks for fixing it so quickly. As you know, it happens all the time. No worries. Just wanted to give Kathleen all the credit and kudos she deserves.

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