New Trier’s turf will be ready for prime time
Worker Javier Arreguin holds the zero from the 50 yard line while helping install the new synthetic turf football field at the New Trier High School campus in Northfield on Friday.| Buzz Orr~Sun-Times
Updated: September 7, 2012 2:57PM
NORTHFIELD—The hot, parched summer of 2012 hasn’t been to everyone’s liking, but it’s provided ideal weather for the installation of synthetic turf fields at New Trier High School’s Northfield campus.
The much-anticipated project is on track for completion before the first home football game in late August. A new stadium plaza will be dedicated Aug. 31, when the Trevians take on Warren Township High School.
Three natural grass fields are being replaced with artificial turf from FieldTurf Revolution. They include the 97,600-square-foot stadium field that is used mostly for competitive play, and two lighted practice fields totaling about 153,500 square feet. Rain runoff will be captured and stored in an underground detention vault.
Currently, the main field is used about 250 hours per year, all during the spring and fall months. School administrators expect usage to jump to about 2,000 hours per year, including summers.
“We were averaging about 2.5 days per week in the spring and fall,” said Randy Oberembt, athletic director for New Trier School District 203. “In the future, we will be in there six days a week and we will be in there with a curriculum, intramurals and interscholastic athletics.”
Going forward, field hockey and lacrosse teams will use stadium field, as will participants in a variety of intramural sports. The fields also will be used by students enrolled in Kinetic Wellness, or physical education classes, during the school day.
“The Kinetic Wellness curriculum will be far more deliverable than it had been when we were using natural turf fields, due to the impact of rain and inclement weather,” he said.
The New Trier Boosters Club aims to raise $1 million toward the $3.1 million project over a three-year period.
“This project not only benefits the athletes at the school, but all of the students as well as the community,” said Heather Blackwell, president of the New Trier Boosters Club. Blackwell said the project has been characterized as a “no brainer” from a business perspective, because of increased rental income and lower maintenance costs.
“It will really pay for itself in a short amount of time,” she said. “Outside community groups will be able to rent the field, and we can use it for sectional and super-sectional competitions. Previously we were not eligible to host those competitions because we didn’t have synthetic turf.”
The Boosters have raised about $350,000 to date from fundraising events and an appeal that went out to current parents and a small percentage of the school’s alumni. The group will next turn to local businesses and corporate donors.
For a donation of $100 or $500, respectively, the Boosters have been “selling” small and large engraved bricks for placement along the plaza walkway.
Benefactors who contribute at least $10,000 will be acknowledged with a plaque on a donor’s wall.
“We were really looking for a big project to fund that would make an impact,” said Blackwell, stressing that Boosters will continue to fund intramural programs and requests from coaches. In recent years, the group has financed lighting and athletic scoreboards at both campuses.
“There is a perception that we live in a district where we pay a lot of property taxes,” she said, hastening to add that School District 203 doesn’t have the commercial tax base of “a Glenbrook South, Glenbrook North or Naperville.”
The District 203 School Board in June approved a new policy on naming rights that opens the possibility that stadium field could be named for an individual or corporate donor. In order to qualify, the donation would need to be at least one-half the cost of the project. Under the policy, no logo or other type of commercial branding would be allowed.
Under the policy, a renaming of stadium field would require a contribution of around $600,000, since $1.2 million of the total cost relates to improvements at stadium field.