Gurnee Dist. 121 board OKs artificial turf field

  • Officials at Gurnee-based Warren Township High School have agreed to install synthetic turf at the O'Plaine Road football stadium.

      Officials at Gurnee-based Warren Township High School have agreed to install synthetic turf at the O'Plaine Road football stadium. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2004

Updated 5/25/2011 11:26 AM

Warren Township High School is hopping on a suburban trend of having an artificial turf football field.

Gurnee-based Warren District 121 board members Tuesday night voted 7-0 in favor of constructing the field at the O'Plaine Road football stadium and building a new track at the Almond Road upperclassmen campus.


Superintendent Phil Sobocinski said the synthetic turf field's cost will be fronted by the school district with money already on hand from a loan that was acquired for capital projects in 2007. Various community groups will raise cash and provide money to Warren for using the field.

"Some people will describe it as a user fee," Sobocinski said. "I'd prefer to describe it as a partnership."

About $800,000 from a loan approved in a referendum mostly for Almond campus improvements will pay for the track, Sobocinski said.

Michael Shrake from the engineering firm Gewalt Hamilton and Associates Inc. said at Tuesday's meeting the artificial turf project may cost about $700,000.

Gurnee resident David Rutkowski, a member of the Stadium Club formed to encourage construction of the new field, said his group already is prepared to contribute $9,000 to District 121. He said local soccer, youth football, lacrosse and other groups are committed to making the financial investment.

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Rutkowski said it's hoped the field will be ready for the 2011-12 academic year and that it won't just be for football. Physical education classes and band are among the uses for the durable field.

Artificial turf is becoming more common on high school football fields. In Lake County, Lake Zurich, Grant High in Fox Lake, Grayslake Central, and Carmel Catholic in Mundelein are among the schools with man-made fields.

Proponents typically say the artificial grass is more durable, requires less maintenance and reduces injuries. They also contend the synthetic surface allows for more use of football fields by student groups, classes and teams.

Last month, Northwest Suburban High School District 214 board members approved agreements for installation of synthetic turf for two football fields. Plans for are for the fake grass to be installed in the summer at Hersey and Wheeling high schools in the fall.

District 214 officials struck a deal to split the expenses with the Arlington Heights and Wheeling park districts. The park systems each will pay $500,000, with District 214 providing half or $1 million.