District 207 gets $300,000 donation for new turf at Maine South
A pharmaceutical company with Chicago-area offices has donated $300,000 to help pay for new artificial turf at Maine South High in Park Ridge.
The money will come from Ireland-based Horizon Therapeutics. The company's U.S. headquarters is in Lake Forest, and it has another office in Chicago.
"Fitness and health of student athletes is vital to our community," said Tim Walbert, the company's chairman, president and CEO, in a letter to the district. "We envision a partnership with Maine South High School which would significantly advance the ability to ensure the health and safety of your student athletes."
Walbert is a Maine Township High School District 207 resident and two of his children have attended Maine South, a company representative said. A third child is set to attend the school, too.
The donation is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- the district has ever received, Superintendent Ken Wallace said.
"We are blessed in District 207 to have incredibly generous communities that support our schools," Wallace said.
The turf will be replaced in summer 2021, in time for the fall football season. The project is expected to cost about $760,000, District 207 spokesman Brett Clark said.
The current turf field was installed in 2009 and officials had planned to replace it next summer, Clark said.
The cash was a donation, not a sponsorship, so there's no expectation of the field or stadium being named after Horizon, he added.
The school board unanimously voted to accept the donation last week.
Relatively rare at the start of the century, artificial turf fields have become common amenities at Northwest suburban schools.
Proponents say man-made fields are easier to maintain and more durable. That durability allows more teams -- as well as gym classes and marching bands -- to practice and play on the fields.
"When the field was grass, it was consistently poor in quality and could not be used widely for practices or contests in most fall seasons," Clark said. "The school would keep most events off of the field to preserve it for varsity football contests."
Of the three District 207 high schools, Maine South is the only one with a synthetic football field. Maine East and Maine West have enough open green spaces in addition to their football fields for outdoor activities, Clark said.