MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This spring’s weather tested every high school athletic program, and maybe their budgets.
What is becoming popular is adding field turf, and in some cases domes to help fight Mother Nature.
It’s costly, but in some cases -– like at Academy of Holy Angels high school in Richfield — it’s been worth it.
Field turf is become common at many area football stadiums. It is a way to preserve a playing surface that brings versatility.
One of the originals was Holy Angels. They inflated a dome over the football field in 1997. This spring, they again saw the benefit.
“The other day I came in and girls’ golf was in one end, hitting in the cages. We had boys’ lacrosse on the 50-yard line going south, girls’ lacrosse going north, and then girls’ softball in the cages on the north end,” said Michael Kautzman, Holy Angels’ athletic director.
It’s more than about a roof — it’s about having turf. At Minnetonka, they played baseball in February last year. When the snow melts, it’s ready.
“[Grass] looks like it’s playable, but the frost isn’t out, so you’re going to ruin the grass if you go on it,” Kautzman said. “The turf allows you to go on immediately. There’s no, you know, no damage that can be done to it like the grass.”
The investment has created enough buzz at Holy Angels. They are adding more turf fields and another dome. So in a land-locked city, they have space for all teams — without wearing down natural grass.
“I think we can fit, you know, three or four teams as we go horizontally across the field for a lot of practice stuff,” he said. “And then any of the varsity practices we’ll have a full field here, so we’ll have two full fields.”
After a spring like this, it does create some discussion at all schools. The bottom line is the bottom line. If the budget makes sense, so too does field turf.
“The efficiency of being able to have all of your teams practice earlier than the teams that don’t have that option also, I think, gives you an advantage as well,” Kautzman said.