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Artificial Turf: Fundraised Today, A Six-Figure Expense Tomorrow

While many districts across the state have received private funding for artificial turf football fields, it leaves the district with the replacement costs 10 years down the road.

If fundraising could start today, the would be in line to receive a football program to fund installation of artificial turf at Schumann Stadium.

The remaining $500,000 would be raised privately through various fundraising efforts, and the district wouldn’t spend a dime — to install the field, that is.

However, in roughly 10 to 12 years, the same field will likely need replacement at a price tag of $400,000 to $450,000, which is a cost that the district will need to assume.

Where that funding will come from, and how a new field fits into long-term planning of the athletic facilities at are questions before they allow fundraising to begin.

While Falls is early in the process of bringing artificial turf to MFHS, several districts around the state have already found a way to make artificial work both on the field and in the district pocketbooks.

Still a developing idea in Falls

There are still several hurdles to jump before fundraising can begin for artificial turf. Currently, the School Board will need to give Athletic Director Dave Petroff and Facilities Director Dwight Crouse approval to launch a $5,000 five-year facilities study.

The purpose of the study is to give cost analysis of several future projects, and their impacts on different groups at the school. The softball fields will need to be brought up to WIAA guidelines within three years, soccer field updates are needed, funding for a new fieldhouse is in consideration, as are bathroom and locker room upgrades to Schumann Stadium.

“We want to look at the whole picture. The turf started the process, but in the meantime a lot of the issues need to be resolved,” Petroff said. “We’re hoping we get through this process and we can look at fundraising for some of these improvements.”

New artificial turf plays an integral role in the future facility plans since it would free up a practice field so a new softball field could be constructed in its stead. The artificial turf at Schumann Stadium would allow the varsity football team to practice on the game field.

Fundraised today; six-digit cost later

In an era of tight educational budgets, one of the biggest questions the study will need to answer is the eventual replacement cost for the field once its useful life is spent. The answer to that question is different, depending on the district.

Shorewood High School Athletic Director Bill Haury said the district installed artificial turf at the high school in 2009. Similarly, the field in Shorewood was initially installed with private funding.

In an urban area, with a high population density, Haury said the district is finding success funding the field’s replacement cost through the rental business. During the eight months of use, he said an average of three outside groups rent the field each week. The money from field rentals is placed into a fund that will be emptied in roughly 10 years for a new field.

“There isn’t really an ongoing expense, either,” Haury said. “In case of rips, or if the field needs grading, it’s usually covered in a maintenance warranty from the field manufacturer.”

Haury said the district rents out the field to schools, athletic clubs, a semi-professional football team and collegiate teams. It also had numerous schools cancel a game on their field — due to sloppy conditions — and head over to Shorewood.

At the Kettle Moraine School District, Athletic Director Mike Fink said officials took a different approach.

After the field was installed, Fink said the district apportioned 16 slots for businesses to place advertising on the field. Each business purchases a five-year contract, and the prices vary depending on the ad location. Again, the ad revenue is placed in a fund for the field’s replacement.

“People were very eager and willing to get on the field and advertise,” Fink said.

Menomonee Falls may take yet another approach to funding the field replacement. Petroff said the typical maintenance costs on the current grass field are about $40,000 a year, which includes labor and materials costs.

Petroff said the total differed costs of field maintenance could be set aside in a fund, and used for the replacement in 10 to 12 years. At roughly $40,000 a year, the math fits. Petroff said he also is considering renting the field, and hosting a few WIAA playoff games for additional revenue.

“We have to show the School Board the costs savings and the possible revenue that could be generated by renting the facility,” Petroff said. “Then take the savings and put them in a different account.”

The School Board will either approve or deny the request to launch the study during its meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at . If approved, the findings in from study will be presented for discussion during the Finance Committee's meeting Nov. 7.

If everything goes to plan, fundraising could begin in December.

Sonny Ray October 19, 2011 at 12:32 PM
I believe that the school district should be preparing students for the future with a good education. When 10th grade reading scores are so low, why are we thinking about wasting money on a sports field that will not benefit the majority of the students?
Craig October 19, 2011 at 01:02 PM
The existing turf costs $40,000 a year to maintain....Will we lay off any personel if new artificial turf is installed?
Steve October 19, 2011 at 01:27 PM
If this is true then in 10 years the repairs on this turf would be paid for. That assumes that the village can stash that money away and not reallocate it elsewhere. The later part is what I know government has a hard time doing.
Steve October 19, 2011 at 01:31 PM
The kids are provided good educational opporunity, it is their personal will to take in the information or reject it. Actually most students do use the field. whether it be PE, sports, or going to the football games on Friday nights.
Craig October 19, 2011 at 01:59 PM
My guess is the practice fields will be mowed in a slower gear to make up for the loss of the stadium field. That being said, nothing is saved.
Sonny Ray October 19, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Steve, you are referring to the high school, I am referring to the whole school district.
Steve October 19, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Most students make their way to the HS eventually.
Craig October 19, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Actually most students never set foot on the field. It is forbidden to use the field for practice or play.
Steve October 19, 2011 at 04:40 PM
How much do they charge to get into a game now? Maybe charge a bit more for that. with savings from busting the unions can that be transfered. I am all for conserving moneies but if it is privatly funded now, in 10 years economy should be rocking again since Obama will be out. More money to go around. Improving that field IMO would be worth it it sucks now anyway. As long as they can budjet correctly it can be done in 10 years.
RAK October 19, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Another waste of money, and who will get sued when the kids get hurt on the artificial turf? In the end it will cost us again, money should be put to work educating the kids and what about other sports, football isn't the best sport for kids to participate.
Matt Schroeder October 19, 2011 at 08:05 PM
For those who are opposed to the field — do you see sports as even being part of the public educational mission? One way or another money has to be spent, whether maintaining a grass field or replacing an artificial field. The only way you save that money is to decide sports no longer have their place in public education. I see both sides but am curious what you think.
Steve October 19, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Who gets sued now? The field is already there, rock hard. Have you ever seen the new kind of turf? The entire school was just redone. The gym is all new other sports benefited from that. Again IMO kids are educated at the HS the more money you throw at that doesn't equal better grades. It's been tried for decades here in the USA.
Craig October 19, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Sports are part of the educational mission if it is affordable. But not all sports are treated equally. I have seen where the athletes have to set up and tear down for Gymnastic meets and assemble the spring floor just prior to the meet. This would be like having the football team mow the grass and paint the lines on the field. Natural turf is fine in our area, there is no reason to replace it. For 6-8 home games a year it is way overpriced. Other teams may want to use the field, but there is plenty space for them elsewhere. When the school has to change the name of the maskot, pleanty of money will be wasted replacing the gym floor and the like. This is High School, we should concentrate on education and the costs associated with that. Next someone is going to want a dome over the field- if there is a donation to build a dome- who gets stuck footing the bill to maintain and repair it?
Carl Engelking October 19, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Thanks for the discussion on this issue everyone. Granted, it is very early in the process, but these are questions that administrators will need to answer. Would any of you be opposed to selling advertising on the field like they do at Kettle Moraine?
RAK October 19, 2011 at 09:49 PM
You are on target Craig, as for football add up the costs for the gear to field a football team and they are outrageous compared to other sports, and now the expense of artificial turf, pure nonsense, this is high school not the pros!
Steve October 20, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Sell every ad space you can. How much will it cost me to put a huge QR coupon code on the new field?
Carl Engelking October 20, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Steve, do you think there are any ethical concerns with selling more advertising in schools to help generate additional revenue? Perhaps give naming rights to the basketball court, have companies sponsor a science lab? It could be Harley Davidson High School, and kids could eat at the Actuant Corp. Cafeteria.
Steve October 20, 2011 at 03:08 PM
There are legitimate concerns and everywhere you look more and more advertising is popping up around "public" areas because it is also a great way of funding. You can do it nice and clean or you can go all out and it can look gaudy. In the actual school is where most have drawn the line, the court or gym well that possibly has room for ad space. The problem I see is what if a sponsor is dropped. If funding from that ad space was used, expensed and incurs no further income to continue, good. If the funding is need to maintain the cost of XYZ then the village may have a financial problem covering that cost. The athletic department, it's supporters and it's "fans" want a new field ad space is a great way of generating revenue without raising taxes or burden on the budget. What if the science lab wants a new piece of equipment, how is it any different to sell ad space in that lab or on that piece of equipment? Less public viewing but private funding was provided to improve the education of the student(s). Does the HS baseball team still play at Trenery (sp) field? The fence is full of ads.
Dave October 25, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Isn't time for those of you who are spouting off about spending it on the kids at schools or pay wages read the facts first. THE MONEY FOR INSTALLATION AND TURF IS BEING DONATED. That to me means these groups are going out to raise the funds for it. It won't increase your taxes but will increase the value of the school. From the story Shorewood makes money from their turf field. What a great thought! If you don't like the way the kids are being taught go to a school board meeting and let them know. Give them your ideas on how to fix it.
RAK October 25, 2011 at 11:32 PM
Artificial turf doesn't last forever and don't forget about ongoing maintenance which may require workers with added training. Please refrain from using a reference to Shorewood and their liberal based body of residents. By the way Trenary field has real turf and the kids play double the amount of games versus the football team. Why not put the fund raising effort into something that benefits the education in our high school. Oh yes, what is the artificial turf made from?

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