The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 22, 2021 1:00 am

SACS weighs $1.5 million soccer field upgrade

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A soccer field upgrade could be on the horizon for Homestead High School, but officials aren't eager to commit to a potentially $1.5 million project as costs are adding up to redo the school.

Southwest Allen County Schools has spent about 6% – almost $10.2 million – of its $169 million budget to renovate Homestead as of Dec. 31, an administrator told the school board during a regular update Tuesday.

Some costs, however, are coming in higher than expected, prompting the construction team to study the forces driving the increases and the next phases of the four-year project, said Jim Coplen, the SACS employee acting as project manager.

The price of steel, for example, went up 20% in recent months, Coplen said.

The high school renovation is being done in five phases, and bidding began late last year for the second phase, which includes additions for the performing arts programs and athletics.

Because phase two is over budget, Coplen told the board he is less eager to proceed with upgrading the soccer facility with synthetic turf.

Even so, Coplen said, it is worth considering.

The natural turf is difficult to maintain because of poor drainage and soil conditions, and administrators said this ongoing issue can only be solved with remodeling the current base, drainage and playing surface.

The administration provided the board with a list of pros and cons about switching from natural to synthetic turf. Although soccer players and coaches generally don't prefer synthetic turf, which has to be replaced sooner than natural turf, a synthetic playing surface could be used more often, including by lacrosse teams, the arguments included.

The competition field hasn't benefited from any major upgrades since the initial build in the mid-1990s, according to information provided to the board.

The district would pay for the soccer facility improvements through the Homestead renovation bond issue, meaning no additional funds or tax rate would be needed.

“I do think that if we do this, we need to do it properly,” Coplen said.

That would require new fencing, upgrades to the entrance and improvements to the restroom and concession building along with installing a new field, base and drainage system, Coplen added.

Costs would then increase from about $1 million for the field to $1.5 million, Coplen said.

The board didn't act on the item, which was brought to members for discussion.

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