Clovis proposes new turf

Leon Williams Stadium might have a new landscape, if Clovis Athletic Director Brian Stacy can raise half of the over $500,000 needed to convert the field to an artificial grass field. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

When Clovis High School Athletic Directer Brian Stacy took over in December 2005, he sat down and looked at his budget.

Stacy said he noticed the high costs of maintaining the grass field at Leon Williams Stadium — totaling more than $85,000 a year, including $29,000 for water. Clovis uses the most water in the city, with the field requiring 13.5 million gallons of water a year.

Eager to cut costs, Stacy said he then tried to devise a plan to convert the grass field to an artificial field turf, which he said would save on water and overall maintenance expenditures.

Stacy now has a committee in place to raise funds for the field, made up of community members and Clovis supporters. He said if he could raise half the money, he would ask the school district for the rest.

The cost of renovating the field would be no more than $6 per square foot, or more than $500,000 to convert the 85,050-square-foot grass field to field turf, Stacy said. If installed, the new field would have a full 12-year warranty. Stacy said turf manufacturers say the field should last 15 to 20 years, but no current field has reached that age where they can make a solid guarantee.

Stacy said he would like to have the new field up and running before the 2007 football season.

The field will serve as a playing surface for every football and soccer team, as well as a practice area for the Clovis High band, Stacy said.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said Stacy’s committee would have to raise half the needed funds before she would bring the proposal before the school board.

Currently, the committe has raised more than $150,000 from local corporations and alumni from the athletics and band programs.

Stacy said if the school board does approve matching funds, he does not want the money to come from education programs.

Seidenwurm said she would not be comfortable with the school district paying for the whole field, when parents would like a number of portable buildings to be made permanent. Seidenwurm mentioned roofs need to be fixed and the cost of a fine arts center as well.

“If they can raise half the money, then I’m comfortable putting the proposal before the committee,” Seidenwurm said. “It would take eight years for the new field to make us money if we paid for it in full. But if we paid half, it will save us money in four years on irrigation and maintenance.”

When some National Football League teams started implanting artificial turf, many injuries followed. But Stacy said field turf is a new kind of animal, and far more advanced than the original, primitive artificial fields, reducing the likelihood of increased injury.

Stacy said he has support from the Clovis High administration and the only nays have come from people misinformed about where the funds for the new field will come from.

Clovis assistant football coach Darren Kelley — who will be traveling to Las Vegas, N.M. to view a soccer complex made up of 10 fields with artificial field turf with committee member Randy Adrian — said the field is a good proposal.

“The nice thing about it is you don’t have to worry about rain or the weather tearing up the field,” Kelley said. “And its a great thing any time you can save the school district water.”