By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of fall athletic programs for the Manchester Flying Dutchmen will be seeing a change come next school year, the installation of a turf football field at the high school began May 30.
After being approved by the Board of Education early in the year, the new field at the high school will now sport turf instead of natural grass. In addition to the turf, it will also be lined for both football and soccer.
The boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will be moving from Alumni field to the high school athletic complex next year after Alumni field, where both teams currently play, has had heavy use since soccer becoming a high school sport for Manchester.
Alumni field is used by the annual Chicken Broil and the Manchester Fair in addition to boys’ and girls’ soccer and with moving both soccer teams to play on the football field, the switch to turf became necessary.
Typical life-spans for turf fields are around ten years and Athletic Director Wes Gall told The Sun Times that a natural grass field wouldn’t be able to hold up with both soccer and football sharing the field.
Other solutions that were discussed included putting a field where the cross-country trail is located, improving Alumni field, and turning a practice field at the high school into a game field before moving the teams to the high school and installing turf was decided upon.
The installation of the artificial turf, done by Maumee Bay will be finished by August 1 but Manchester High School Principal Eric McCalla said that Maumee anticipated being done sometime during the week of July 20.
While turf fields can run north of $500,000 dollars, funding for the field came from the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program that allows public schools in Michigan to finance the equipping and/or renovating of school facilities on an interest free basis through the allocation of tax credits.
At the beginning of the year, Manchester Schools applied for and received the QZAB bond to upgrade the districts energy efficiency, taking out a $3.1 million loan from the government at 1/25% with 15-year financing. The upgrades will improve interior and exterior lighting, boilers, and water heaters, among many other improvements.
McCalla told The Sun Times that over that 15-year period the energy project will save an estimated $800,000.