PLAINFIELD – Construction crews at Plainfield Central High School were at work last week revamping the stadium field.
With the exception of the track, the field was rendered rocky Thursday as a result of the excavation and construction work that was being done.
Central, like all four of the high schools in Plainfield School District 202, is getting its field redone to expand and strengthen its use by students, athletes, the Plainfield Park District and others. All fields will have new video displays.
District officials plan, in a two-phase project, to finish installing artificial turf at Central and South by the fall, and then tackle North and East next summer.
The fields can be used for more than games, such as homecomings and graduations, district spokesman Tom Hernandez said. Other uses could be gym classes, band practice and for rental by community athletic organizations.
“It could be a revenue source and it creates a community opportunity that does not exist now and that’s how [other schools] have used their fields,” he said.
“It will be a benefit to be able to access the field at any time,” said South athletic director Ken Bublitz, who coached Cougars football the previous 10 years, the past five as head coach. “Weather no longer will be a factor as far as wear and tear. The turf field eventually will get worn down, but it will allow a number of different teams on the field, hopefully, without irreparable damage being done.”
From a football standpoint, Bublitz said, the key factor is there almost always is good footing.
“That creates different circumstances, especially late in the year when weather can be, and often is, a factor,” he said. “Everyone grows up playing football on a grass field and would love to keep doing that, but in a school situation where there are multiple uses, the guaranteed access becomes critical.”
The renovations of the stadiums is the first significant capital project since the construction of Plainfield East High School, Hernandez said, which opened August 2008.
The expected cost to upgrades of the stadiums – including the video displays – is about $6.3 million.
The Board of Education approved in February bids for excavation and general construction work at Central and South to be awarded to Team Reil and Hoppy’s Landscaping, respectively, for a total of about $1.79 million to be paid by construction funds.
The amount for the same work is expected to be the same for North and East next summer.
The artificial turf for all four high schools will be about $1.73 million through a sales agreement and will be manufactured, shipped and fully installed, Hernandez wrote in an email. The architectural fees for the project – excluding any possible cost overruns – is projected to be $476,385, he wrote.
In June, the board approved the purchase and installation of video display boards for $583,600 to be paid for by construction funds. District officials said each display board could generate an estimated $40,000 a year through advertising.
Video displays were sought after by district officials because, Hernandez wrote in an email, they wanted to modernize and upgrade them as well a provide a platform for school and community promotion and a possible revenue stream from advertising.
“The one at [Central] was installed in 1987 and updated in 2006. The one at [South] was installed in 2001. It was getting very difficult to find replacement parts for these units given their age,” Hernandez wrote.
With new turf in the fields, the savings on maintenance costs for the fields is expected to be at least $200,000 a year once all four schools are done, Hernandez wrote.
• Herald-News Sports Editor Dick Goss contributed to this report.
• Two-phase project to install artificial turf at Plainfield Central, South, East and North.
• Video displays will be installed at each field.
• Work includes excavation and general construction.