JHS football coach Mark Grounds appeared before the District 117 board of education this week to talk about the possibility of having a new turf put in at Kraushaar-Rosenberger Field. Premier Bank Chairman Todd Green has offered a zero-interest loan to help finance the project.
Green offered a similar financing for Sacred Heart Griffin High School in Springfield for a plan completed last year that saw $1.5-million of artificial turf installed at the school’s two fields for baseball, football and soccer.
Grounds told the board the cost of the field would be around $600,000. He says the money raised would come through a newly-created non-profit organization, not District 117.
“Obviously, those are the tricky parts because we’re looking in a time of economic crisis in the state. The school district cannot spend money on athletics facilities or, really, classroom facilities when it comes to building anything new,” says Grounds.
“So, to be able to accomplish something like that, we’re looking at seeing if we have the ability through private sources to put the project in play.”
Grounds points to studies done by the Illinois School Board Association that indicate a $50,000-per-year savings that would result from the switch, stemming from lower maintenance costs.
He says JHS soccer coach Steve West supports the idea, among others.
Green thinks the new field would be great for the community.
“It’s a multi-purpose facility now. The band can practice on it anytime. I know that at SHG, since we put down this new turf, school’s out and you’ll go on over there and there will literally be 20, 30, 40 kids running around on that turf, playing catch, softball, doing all kinds of stuff,” he says. “It attracts good things for young kids.”
He adds that the turf, once installed, would have a ten-to-twelve year lifespan.
“It requires almost no maintenance, and it’s way easier to play on. As far as safety, it’s way better because when your head hits the turf, it’s way less hard then it is if you’re on grass,” says Green.
“Plus, you’re going to be able to play girls softball on there. You’ll be able to play state tournament soccer. You’ll be able to play all the JV games, the freshman games on there. So, that turf is going to be used for a lot of stuff, plus possibly rental.”
Grounds says the weather problems Jacksonville has experienced for the last several years should make this an enticing option.
“Two years ago, we had the water plant that got flooded; the water was turned off for a month. We had heat restrictions this last year. So, it has retarded the natural regeneration process at all of our fields,” he says.
In addition to his role at Premier Bank, Green is the owner of Green Family Stores and a construction business, which took part of the renovations at SHG. He says in addition to providing the loan help, his group would spearhead the Jacksonville project.