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Board approves new playing surface for high school athletic fields

At its December 8 meeting, the Parkway Board of Education approved the purchase of synthetic turf for four high school athletic fields. Funding for the project will be provided from 2008 bond funds designated for athletic field improvements. The lowest and best of five vendor bids was submitted by ATG Sports and approved at a cost of $2.86 million. 

ATG Sports has installed 13 synthetic turf fields in the St. Louis area including Festus High School, Francis Howell High School, Jefferson R7 School District, Crystal City, Hermann School District, Saint Francis Borgia and Edwardsville High School. Other St. Louis area schools with synthetic turf fields include Kirkwood, Mehlville School District, Hillsboro, St. Charles, CBC and St. Louis University High.

“We’re delighted that we will soon have fields that can host an unlimited number of activities including girls lacrosse, field hockey, PE classes, band practices and concerts, and greater opportunities for the community to use the fields when they are not being used by our students,” said Parkway Director of Activities and Athletics Mike Gohn.  

After voters approved an $87 million bond issue for capital improvements in November 2008, an interdisciplinary committee was formed to research and compare natural grass and various types of synthetic turf. After many months of research, the committee recommended pursuing the conversion of Parkway’s four high school playing fields to synthetic turf for the following reasons: 

  • Establish a safe playing field that can be utilized 24/7.
  • Increase the amount of field usage by over 800 percent. 
  • Allow equal access to stadium fields for all athletic participants.
  • Allow outside groups to rent fields when not in use.
  • Provide additional teaching facilities for physical education.
  • Provide adequate and equal facilities for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.
  • Provide an all-weather surface for band practices and contests.
  • Reduce wear and tear on secondary fields.
  • Allow for an all-weather playing surface.
  • Create more efficient use of facilities and reduce cost per use.
  • Allow fewer sub-varsity games to be cancelled due to weather.
  • Enhance after-school athletics, physical education and fine arts programs by allowing additional access to stadium fields.

Construction will begin this spring and all four fields are expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.