Lake Zurich Unit District 95 board members have approved spending nearly $1.2 million on upgrades to the high school football stadium that'll include a new synthetic playing surface.
Board members at a meeting Thursday night voted 7-0 in favor of the first phase of stadium improvements. The new turf will replace the fake grass that was installed in 2005 and paid for through private donations acquired through a resident-led initiative.
District 95 board President Tony Pietro said safety concerns led officials to deem the new field necessary. Lake Zurich High School's football, soccer and lacrosse teams are among the field's occupants.
"It's nonstop use on that field," Pietro told the Daily Herald.
Georgia-based FieldTurf will receive $443,693 to install the new artificial grass for the 100-yard gridiron. The FieldTurf brand is a long-piled artificial surface with sand and rubber particles between plastic fibers to provide players better footing and shock absorption.
Maneval Construction, near Ingleside, will receive $735,070 to prepare the site for installation of the new synthetic surface, improve the stadium's drainage and creation of a stormwater detention area.
District 95's director of facilities, Lyle Erstad, said the project will start in the summer. He said the detention area design will accommodate possible replacement of the Mel Eide Field bleachers and nearby tennis courts.
Pietro said the bleacher replacement is on the District 95 administration's "hopeful budget" for next year. He stressed the current bleachers are inspected every year and are safe.
Along with the sports teams, Lake Zurich High School's marching band spends a lot of time at the stadium for rehearsals and on football game days. Band director Josh Thompson said the musicians could not be on the field almost every day during football season if it were real grass.
"I'm a huge fan of the (artificial) turf," he said.
Board member Kathy Brown said District 95 has the financial wherewithal to pay for the stadium turf project, which would not have been the case four or so years ago.
"We knew we had to replace it," she said.