After hearing King Philip athletic director Steve Schaire's blunt assessment of the King Philip stadium field last month, Superintendant Elizabeth Zielinski, gave an update the situation concerning the current field and a road map to obtain a turf field.
Despite having over 400 student-athletes competing each season, only about 40 events are allowed to take place on the field due to its poor condition. With the field’s grass root system badly damage the dip in the field getting worse from pass usage, the school has been forced to allow only football, lacrosse, and some soccer games to be played on the field.
The damage is so extensive that the MIAA forced the field hockey team to play their home tournament game this year at Mansfield High School as the bumps and uneven playing field made the field unusable for field hockey.
To try to preserve what remains of the field, the football team practices at the American Legion but the school must spend money to transport the team to and from practice. According to Zielinski, the cost for three shuttles, four times a week, round trip for 12 weeks is $14,400.
The boys and girls soccer team also practice on fields away from the school five days a week for 10 weeks at a cost of $5,000. The bus goes only one way as many of the parents pick up their children after practice.
If the school were to try to bring their current field to modern standards, it would cost an estimated $350,000 and the field could not be used for two growing seasons with the process having to be repeated every 2-3 years.
A turf field comes with an upfront price of $850,000 but with a yearly maintenance cost of $1,000-$2,000 a year. The field would not have to be replaced for 12-15 years and only the actual turf would cost between $300,000 - $350,000.
The number of events allowed on the field would increase from 40 to over 300-400 a year as teams could now use the field more often without the fear of more damage. There is also the potential to rent the field to youth groups, adult leagues, and tournaments in need of a field. The school anticipates they could charge $250 per hour during the day and $300 per hour to use the field during the evening.
A new field would also benefit the King Philip Marching Band. With practices taking place in the school’s parking lot, a turf field would allow the band to practice on the field and take away the danger of practicing in the parking lot during school events.
The big question for the project is funding. So far the King Philip Music Association has agreed to donate $50,000 over five years and the KP Gridiron Club has raised and spent $40,000 on studies and plans for the field. There have been discussions with local businesses about matching funds.
Local companies have also expressed an interest in providing site excavation and preparation as a donation. The excavation and site prep would bring down the costs if done as a donation.
Zielinski is also open to sponsorship deals which would allow businesses to advertise to help pay for the turf.
The next step will be a meeting with potential donors in January. After figuring out how much money can be raised, the school district can then go ahead and figure out how much the project would cost the Norfolk, Plainville, and Wrentham.