Elk Grove H.S. still searching for artificial turf partner

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 is still looking for an organization, or organizations, to share the cost of installing artificial turf at Elk Grove High School’s stadium, while the other five schools in the district have all gotten new fields in the past two years.

The district has not been able to find a group willing to share the $1 million cost of installing a new field at Elk Grove High School and some parents are wondering why.

“It’s not that we’re not interested in a sixth (field). We’re continuing to look for partnerships and working with them,” Superintendent Dave Schuler said last year.

District spokeswoman Venetia Miles said this week that is still the case.

“We are continuing to seek a partner, we just haven’t found one yet,” Miles said. “We have reached out to the Elk Grove Park District and at this point they are not interested in a 50-50 split so we are continuing to explore all options.”

Three Elk Grove parents and members of the Athletic Advisory Council brought it up to the District 214 school board on Thursday.

“Everyone else in the district has one and we don’t. It’s a competitive disadvantage not only for our sports teams, but also to our band as well as physical education classes,” said Mike Wary, whose children play football and soccer.

Wary said there have been several instances where a bad storm has kept the field from being used, where an artificial turf field would not have been damaged.

Elk Grove Park District Executive Director Mike Brottman said he would like to see the high school get a new field, but it isn’t something the park district wants to invest in.

“We didn’t really feel the need, program-wise, for a $500,000 commitment, but we left the door open that we would talk in the future if there were other opportunities,” Brottman said.

“We’re more unique from the other park districts involved because we already have two full football fields that are lit and two practice fields,” Brottman said. He added that soccer and football registration in Elk Grove has been declining, so commissioners don’t see an increasing need for the additional field use in the future.

Artificial turf was installed at Buffalo Grove, Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Hersey and Wheeling high schools over the past two years through cost-sharing partnerships with local park districts and other groups.

District 214 split the costs at Buffalo Grove and Prospect high schools evenly with the Buffalo Grove and Mount Prospect park districts. Elite Soccer of America Inc. is sharing the cost at Rolling Meadows High School. Wheeling and Hersey High schools installed synthetic turf fields last year through partnerships with the Wheeling and Arlington Heights park districts.

The agreements give the park districts and Elite Soccer shared use of the fields.

According to a study done by District 214, by sharing the costs with partners the fields will pay for themselves in less than nine years.

Without a partner at Elk Grove High School, Wary questioned if the school district would be willing to pay for the whole field itself. Brottman, meanwhile, suggested the park district might reconsider if there were another organization willing to split the cost three ways.

Either way, on Thursday the board approved bids for most of its annual summer construction projects, which did not include a new field — meaning it’s unlikely Elk Grove will have a turf field to play on for the fall football season this year.

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