MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is sure to be an exciting night at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. The school is dedicating a brand new athletic field at Friday night’s football game against rival Southwest.
It’s a day the school has been looking forward to this day for a long time. Washburn Athletic Director Dan Pratt said it’s taken 10 years to raise the money, lay this turf and have it game ready.
Friday night is also homecoming at Washburn, and the school is ready to show off a seven-figure investment.
It’s the biggest game of the season yet for the Millers against one of their Minneapolis City Conference rivals.
“There’s always trash talking. We went to middle school with these kids so we know them well,” said player Jeff Jones. “There’s going to be a lot of people who come out not only to see us, but the turf.”
It took $1.2 million to put down a brand new field, and a $200,000 grant from the Vikings kick started the project. Fundraising, grants and tax dollars paid for the rest.
“It was a pretty big undertaking. We had trucks lined up around the block, they came in and took of upwards of 18 inches of soil and they put the drain tiles in and all sorts of other mechanical things that I don’t even know about,” Pratt said.
The new gridiron is a welcome change from the practice field the team was used to.
“It was a lot of dirt, a lot of tree roots, rocks. In the past we’ve twisted a lot of ankles,” said coach Giovan Jenkins.
But on the new field, Fieldturf and tiny rubber granuals make the turf softer and safer.
“You got more speed, you’re more versatile side to side and there’s less damage to your knees,” Jones said.
Before, teams were kept off the old field to save it for games.
“This year it’s been great because we’ve been able to do about 90 to 95 percent of our practice out here on this game field,” Jenkins said.
Now Washburn has a turf that will stand up. Jenkins said his team and his program wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Since space is so limited at the school, having a state-of-the-art durable field will allow more of the school’s teams to use it. And in the spring, Pratt said he used to keep teams off of it to allow for the grass to grow, but that’s not an issue anymore.
The school is working on a plan to rent it out to clubs and other groups so the youth sports teams around the metro could benefit.