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Waterloo West’s Mario Wright pulls away from a Waterloo East defender to score a touchdown in the first half Friday.

WATERLOO — Heavier usage of Memorial Stadium is expected as Waterloo Community Schools’ moves forward with a plan to install artificial turf.

The Board of Education earlier this week approved a $977,158 contract with Mid-America Golf and Landscape.

Both East and West high schools hold their home football games at the stadium adjacent to Central Middle School. Track meets hosted by the schools are held there, as well.

The Lees Summit, Mo., company will install AstroTurf after removing the natural turf and laying down two feet of aggregate. The contract also includes building a new long jump area in a different spot and removing the existing runway and pits. The project is being paid for with physical plant and equipment levy funds.

Three other companies also bid on the project with base bids ranging from $955,700 to $1.16 million. Mid-America’s base bid was $818,825 before several alternates were added.

Work is expected to get underway after Thursday, when the last track meet this spring is scheduled there.

“That (following) Monday is, I’m assuming, when they’ll start hauling dirt in,” said Willie Barney, executive director of supplemental services. The project will be done before the field is needed again for football games. “I anticipate some uses even this summer, yet,” he noted.

When completed, the East name will be in the end zone closest to the school building with the West name at the other end of the field.

Artificial turf often lasts a decade or longer before needing to be replaced. “You’re guaranteed eight years with the warranty,” said Jason Blome of RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, which worked on the project. He noted replacement costs once the turf is worn out are “potentially” half of the installation expense.

Superintendent Jane Lindaman said artificial turf has become common on the competition playing fields of Iowa school districts.

“We are one of just a couple districts that haven’t gone this route,” she said. The synthetic surface “really opens up a lot of advantages as far as uses.”

There also is a savings on upkeep without mowing and other natural turf care. Lindaman noted the artificial turf will need to be straightened and anchored once a year.

With a grass surface, the number of sports teams and students on the field needs to be limited so the turf can be in good shape for games. It isn’t only sports teams that tear up grass football fields, though.

“The number one toughest activity for turf is band,” said Barney. The East and West bands perform during halftime at home football games and every other year the stadium is used for the region’s state marching band festival.

“I anticipate both football teams will want to be on there for practice,” he noted. Currently, that happens on practice fields at each school.

In addition, district soccer teams are expected to move their games to the stadium from the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex. Relocation of the long jump pits is necessary to allow for a full-sized soccer field in the space.

Other community sports teams also may be interested in the space when it’s not in use by district athletics.

“I think we’ll be amazed at the types of groups that will choose this,” said Barney.

Board member Shanlee McNally added, “I think there’s going to be a line out the door to use this facility.”

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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