Fundraising under way for proposed field turf at Tonganoxie High
An ambitious funding campaign that would bring artificial turf to Tonganoxie High School’s Beatty Field already is gaining steam.
Tonganoxie USD 464 School Board Member Kaija Baldock reported that $137,500 in pledges already have come in for field turf at THS.
The total price tag for artificial turf is $700,000, $450,000 would come from donors. The school board has pledged up to $250,000 in capital outlay funds for the project if the anticipated donor money level is reached.
If $250,000 is raised by March 1, per a recent school board vote, the project can proceed with turf being installed by August and ready for the 2019-20 school year. The donation levels include advertising on the field, banners at the stadium or other advertising opportunities at Beatty Field.
The varying levels of donations are Chieftain Club sponsor ($100,000), Varsity Club sponsor ($5,000 per year for five years or a one-time payment of $25,000), Junior Varsity (2,500 per year for five years or a one-time payment of $12,500), MVL Club sponsor ($5,000 with payment options established if needed), Captain’s Club sponsor ($2,500-$4,900), Hall of Fame sponsor ($1,000-$2,499), Community Club sponsor ($499-$999), Red and White sponsor ($250-$499) and Booster Club sponsor ($100-$249).
District officials have given a plethora of reasons to consider the turf.
With Ottawa adding artificial turf for the 2019-20 school year, THS would be the only Frontier League School without turf. The surface also would allow for less maintenance on multiple fields for natural grass, a on-campus home for the soccer teams and the ability to schedule more events at Beatty Field in general. Currently, the wear and tear on the current grass turf, coupled with rainfall, has forced some cancellations of games scheduled as home contests for THS.
As part of the campaign for the turf, which is expected to get into full swing this week, several coaches, administrators and other community members have weighed in on the prospects of field turf.
Charles Van Middlesworth, director of bands for THS and Tonganoxie Middle School, said the turf would open up opportunities for his program.
“Turf for our band program would provide a fantastic, level and professional marching surface for our students to practice and perform on. I believe that turf would improve the marching band’s overall performance by providing a consistent practice and performance surface that will prepare our band kids for competition,” Van Middlesworth said.
Various coaches endorsed the move, as the turf allows for more practice time when grass surface might not be usable due to rain or other factors.
Mark Padfield, who serves as the school’s athletic trainer and is an at-risk teacher at THS, said his concern for concussions and knee injuries is based on overuse of the field as it stands with natural grass.
“We simply overused the field currently, and in my opinion based solely on this factor, an artificial surface would likely decrease our injury rates and increase our student athlete safety,” Padfield said.
At Monday’s school board meeting, Baldock also mentioned some comments from patrons about the economic impact of the turf on the community. More events — including the possibility for sports tournaments and a marching band festival — brings in additional visitors who spend money at restaurants and other Tonganoxie businesses.
Varsity sponsors ($25,000) so far are the Lois Meadows family, Briley Sonics, First State Bank and Trust, Remco Demolition and Tonganoxie Booster Club.
Gambino’s Pizza is the first Junior Varsity sponsor ($12,500).
The district also will be launching a Giving Wall on its website that will allow for online donations.
The field turf pledge drive is separate from the district efforts to propose a bond issue for improvements to Tonganoxie High School. Board members have been adamant about keeping the turf project separate from building improvements and having its field fund come primarily from community and business donors.