EAGLE POINT — The Eagle Point Booster Club is spending more than $1 million on a new artificial turf for the high school stadium, an upgrade members say will prevent injuries and increase the field's use.
The booster club received a $700,000 grant earlier this year from the Community Sports Development Council, a national corporation that helps fund and build high-quality sports fields in rural areas, according to Eagle Point School Board member Ted Dole.
Donations for the last $60,000 of fundraising for the artificial turf field can be made
to the Eagle Point Booster Club, P.O. Box 1366, Eagle Point, OR 97524. Donors who contribute $500 or more will be listed on a donor wall plaque at the stadium.
"They come into these smaller communities like Eagle Point that couldn't otherwise afford it," said Dole, a booster club member.
Eagle Point High School football coach Jacob Schauffler secured the grant, which will cover almost 70 percent of the project and must be used in 2012.
For years, only the high school football team has been allowed to use the grass field to preserve it for games.
"Even the varsity soccer program wasn't playing on campus," said Dole.
After receiving the grant, the booster club got to work raising money and seeking out other funding to cover the remaining $500,000 cost for the new turf, which is being installed by the Community Sports Development Council this week.
As of Monday, Dole said the fundraising campaign was about $60,000 short of a nearly $1.2 million effort, but the booster club had proceeded with installation anyway to have the field ready for the beginning of school next week.
"It's been a little bit behind the scenes," said Dole. "I don't think a lot of people expected it to happen."
Dole said with the new turf, there will be numerous opportunities for youths to use the field, and it will put Eagle Point on par with other fields in Medford and Central Point.
Similar artificial turf fields are used in the NFL and in 80 percent of Oregon high schools in the same 6A athletic division as Eagle Point.
"It can be played on 365 days a year," said Dole, who expects the field to be completed in time for the first home football game, Friday, Sept. 7.
Last year, a new lighting system was installed in the stadium.
The initial head counts for fall sports are up from last year, something Dole attributes to students' interest in the new artificial turf.
"The kids are really excited about participating," said Dole. "We feel like there will easily be about 10 times more use than the old field."
Dole said the rate of athletic injuries goes down about 30 to 40 percent when artificial turf is used.
The field is made from synthetic grass, with a crushed-rubber base, and is estimated to last 12 to 15 years.
Because it doesn't need to be mowed or watered, the new field will end up saving the district in maintenance costs.
The Eagle Point School District plans to hold a community celebration once the field installation is complete.
Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or email@example.com.