Football players at Northrop and Snider high schools will begin the fall season with an upgrade: a synthetic turf field at Spuller Stadium.
On Monday, the Fort Wayne Community Schools board unanimously approved a $948,991 construction contract with the Motz Group for a new field. The typical lifespan is 10 to 12 years.
“I like the project. I know that other schools, both at the high school and college level, have moved this way,” said Steve Corona, board vice president. “Given the amount of play, the amount of contests that are scheduled – athletic and non-athletic – this is really a good move for us.”
The field needs to be upgraded because the existing grass turf gets torn up quickly, said Darren Hess, facilities director.
“It's a tired turf as is, and it takes quite a bit of time and effort to keep it in shape every week for a game,” Hess said.
Installing turf will also make Spuller Stadium a potential host for larger band competitions and sectional and regional events, he added. Those activities are moving to facilities with synthetic turf because higher-quality field conditions are guaranteed, he said.
Maria Norman, a board member, questioned the investment's timing, considering teachers Saturday participated in a statewide rally in support of public education, better pay and better funding for schools.
“It just seems like a bad time to approve a project like this,” Norman said.
Superintendent Wendy Robinson said the field – which is in the 2019 budget – needs to be addressed.
“We're not stopping something else to do the turf,” Robinson said.
The only quibble Corona had was about the midfield Northrop logo because Snider also uses the facility.
“I know the field is at Northrop High School, but it's really a Fort Wayne Community Schools property,” Corona said, advocating for an arrangement that would work for both schools.
Julie Hollingsworth, board president and Snider graduate, had a different view of the situation.
“I would say Snider has probably used that to their advantage a little bit over the years,” Hollingsworth said of playing on Northrop's field. “They might have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder when they head over to Northrop to play, and any coach will tell you that's not really a bad thing.”
Although the field will have Northrop's logo, Snider will be recognized when its teams play through other means, such as banners, Robinson said.
The work is expected to be finished by Aug. 2 and will be supported through the district's operations fund.