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Gateway turf replacement to be studied

| Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010

Gateway School District officials are considering replacing the artificial turf at the Antimarino Stadium, but first they want to find out how safe the existing turf is.

At an athletic committee meeting last week, athletic director Terry Smith said the warranty on the 8-year-old turf will soon expire, and the turf is falling apart in some places. The maintenance department crews are gluing numbers and lines back onto it.

Smith estimated replacing the all-rubber turf would cost between $300,000 and $350,000.

The turf services the entire athletic department, physical education classes and community events. Wear-and-tear has increased the number of scrapes in athletes, Smith said.

"It's like a carpet at your house; it wears and starts to flatten," he said. "As it flattens, it becomes more of a safety hazard."

Smith said he received a letter from East Suburban Sports Medicine stating that this year was the first year a lot of athletes received skin burns.

The board agreed to tour the field and seek an independent contractor to test it to determine whether it is safe.

School board member Joe Wightkin said he's not convinced the turf must be replaced, but getting the test done would help make the determination.

"Besides the warranty being over for eight years, is there anything saying it's not safe?" he asked. "Gluing and re-gluing is normal. It'll be nice to see that test because we'll have some numbers."

Board member Dan Nowak said the problem could be that the field is used for too many things.

The advantage of having a field with artificial turf is that teams -- such as baseball and softball -- can condition on it when their fields are flooded, Assistant Superintendent Theresa Piatek said.

"The investment for that type of field allows more flexibility," she said.

Board member Scott Williams said when the turf was replaced eight years ago, officials discussed whether to allow advertising on the scoreboard to help pay for new turf, but that never happened.

Smith said the turf could hold up for another year or so, but officials should begin to consider how to pay to replace it.

"We have to have a plan in place for it," he said.

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