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Bank paying $250,000 for turf at GP track

GRANTS PASS — Evergreen Federal Bank will pay $250,000 to help install artificial turf in the center of the track at Russ Werner Field at Grants Pass High School in exchange for naming rights.

The Grants Pass School Board approved the deal Tuesday as part of a larger plan to improve the athletics facilities at the high school. Work on the project is expected to begin this summer, according to Sherry Ely, the district's director of business and finance.

The total cost to replace the center grass field with artificial turf is estimated at $400,000. After Evergreen's contribution, the balance of $150,000 will be underwritten by the GPHS Athletic Boosters and GPHS Band Boosters.

"A new field will get a lot of use," Athletic Director Clay Rounsaville explained. "It's easier for me to keep all the (sports) groups happy."

As part of the naming rights agreement, the district will resurface the varsity baseball field with artificial turf at a cost of $250,000. Funding for the field, formally known as George Russell Field, is included in the approved 2016-17 district budget.

In exchange for Evergreen's contribution, the district agreed to give the bank exclusive 20-year naming rights to the entire complex comprising the track and field facility, the baseball and softball fields as well as the adjacent parking lot.

The deal allows Evergreen to hang signs that will read "Evergreen Federal Bank Sports Complex" at various entrances to the complex, on scoreboards and other locations within the complex.

For the naming rights period of 20 years, no other bank or financial services company will be allowed to advertise or disseminate promotional materials in the complex except for events such as Relay for Life.

The complex is currently used by the baseball, softball, soccer, football and track teams at the high school, along with many adult athletic groups, and for special events such as Relay For Life and Special Olympics.

The licensing agreement is similar to that used for similar projects with community partners including the Blue Slide Project at Parkside Elementary School and the resurfacing of Mel Ingram Field in 2003, which was funded by a loan of a $330,000 financed through Evergreen.

This type of project is nothing new for Evergreen, which donated $200,000 to the Three Rivers School District in 2014 for naming rights of the athletics complex at Hidden Valley High School.

A new multipurpose artificial turf field will be installed in the center of the existing Russ Werner track at Grants Pass High School. The cost to the district for the new turf is $400,000, $250,000 of which was donated by the Evergreen Federal Bank. TIMOTHY BULLAR / Daily Courier