8-year-old synthetic turf field deemed unplayable

The synthetic turf field at West Orange (FL) High School has been deemed unplayable, athletic director Adam Miller confirmed to the West Orange Times & Observer on March 19.

The field, which was installed in 2007, was due for a replacement, but the school has been having trouble raising the necessary funds and had called on the community to help pitch in.

According to Miller, a representative had come to inspect the field in December, after which time the school made some fixes to try and keep the field playable. A different representative came in late February to check up on the field and on March 19 it was relayed to Miller and his staff that the field no longer meets ASTM standards and is unplayable.

The unplayable distinction means that, until the field is replaced, no further events can take place on it — including boys and girls lacrosse, as well as girls flag football, which are all currently in season.

Boys’ lacrosse will not be impacted, as they had already played their final home game. The girls team, however, will have to play its final home game — scheduled for March 31 against Wekiva — at Wekiva instead of on Raymond Screws Field.

As for flag football, which just recently began its regular season, Miller said the school is looking into utilizing an auxiliary field that is often used by the band for practice, as well as the West Orange Bobcats youth football team, and is located between the varsity baseball field and the school’s ninth grade center.

Varsity programs affiliated with the school are not the only ones affected, though.

The Orlando Rage, a non-profit minor league football team which competes in the Florida Football Alliance, rents out Raymond Screws Field as its home field and has home games scheduled for March 28, April 11 and April 18 that will need to be relocated.

The Central Florida Youth Football League, which has a spring season for its players, also had plans to utilize the facility on the weekends for games.

West Orange’s varsity football program is scheduled to host Gainesville on May 29 for its spring game. If the field is not replaced by then, it is likely that game will have to be cancelled, or else relocated. On Thursday, Miller expressed confidence in the West Orange community that a replacement field will be purchased and installed in time for the spring game.

“We will have a field by May 29,” Miller said.

Miller confirmed on Thursday that the school needs donations totaling $232,000 to secure a replacement. Once the funds are raised, it will take a week or two for approval to come from Orange County Public Schools, another week or two for the field to be made and then roughly two weeks for installation.

The total process will run four-to-six weeks from the day the last of the money is collected, making May 1 a deadline, of sorts, if the school is to host its spring football game.- By Steven Ryzewski