A group of local residents and parents is spearheading Project Turf, a community effort to raise money for the installation of a new synthetic turf playing surface in the stadium field at Vernon Hills (IL) High School.
Project Turf group raises $125,000 for Illinois field
A project to raise funds to put artificial turf on Rust-Oleum Field at the Vernon Hills (IL) Athletic Complex is gaining momentum.
A group of local residents and parents is spearheading Project Turf, a community effort to raise money for the installation of a new synthetic turf playing surface in the stadium field at Vernon Hills High School.
Dennis Donelon, chairman of the Project Turf committee, said the project is hoping to raise between $800,000 and $1 million to install a synthetic turf surface on the field when the existing grass field is replaced in 2012. He said Vernon Hills High School has pledged to contribute $300,000 toward the project. He said the group has already raised another $125,000 toward the effort.
Donelon said the original grass surface was installed when the stadium field was built about 10 years ago and is nearing the end of its natural life. He said the group believes the installation of artificial turf will dramatically increase potential uses at the field.
Currently, Donelon said the existing natural grass field is only used about 35 games a year, mostly for football with some soccer and lacrosse, due to field conditions. The existing grass fields are also costly to maintain, he said.
With artificial turf, Donelon said they would be able to dramatically expand the use of the fields for other sports as well as physical education classes and potentially make the fields available for other youth athletic programs, park district activities and even Special Olympics events. “We believe the synthetic surface is going to open up the field for other uses,” he said.
The group believes with artificial turf they will be able to expand the use of the fields to between 250 and 350 events a year, Donelon said. Synthetic surface also will reduce the likelihood that the fields will be unplayable for football games or other major sporting events because of adverse weather or poor field conditions.
“Last year, we had a very wet fall and three of the (football games) had to be played away because of the condition of the field,” he said.
Donelon said that the group is currently raising funds through a variety of sources, including private pledges and corporate donations, and a number of fund-raising events are planned. The Cougar Athletic Boosters has pledged $100,000 to the project. Several local restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, On the Border, Jersey Mike’s and Salerno’s are planning “turf nights” where a portion of the sales for an evening will go to support the project. They also working with other businesses in organizing other fundraising events and other school related events will be held throughout the school year.
Brian McDonald, athletic director at Vernon Hills High School, said the school district is supportive of the effort and believes it will dramatically increase use of the field for the school and the community. McDonald said the school district has agreed to contribute $300,000 toward the project, provided that the group is able to raise the remaining necessary funds.