Monroe High School will install artificial turf in its football stadium

The Monroe Public Schools Board has approved the installation of new synthetic turf that officials say should be ready for the fall football season and will benefit students across the district.

Approximately 57,000 square feet of synthetic turf and a new track will be installed at Monroe High School’s Bunkelman Field at a cost of more than $1.8 million. Supt. Dr Julie Everly said the money will come from district savings.

“It will be a real Trojan ground, a place where families come together and a real source of pride for our Monroe community,” she said. “Upgrading the pitch is going to make it accessible to a lot more teams and programs.”

At a board meeting on Tuesday evening, the board approved the contract with Maumee Bay Turf Center. The new football pitch will feature stripes in alternating shades of green, a red end zone and the school’s Trojan logo on the 50-yard line.

Previous report:Monroe turf proposal: ‘It will change the whole school landscape’

“Monroe has just entered the 21st century,” said athletic director John Ray. “This project – both the athletics and the synthetic turf pitch – will change the landscape of our school.”

As the pitch gets a makeover, the real reason for installing synthetic turf is increased usage. Not needing to limit the use of the pitch to protect the turf means that hundreds of additional MPS students will be able to use the pitch for games, practices and events, Ray said.

Grass fields can become unplayable due to wet conditions and overuse. Normal wear and tear from games and practices, in addition to precipitation, can create mud pits. For years, the MHS ground was primarily used for football, and the football and marching band had to limit their practices there.

The durability of synthetic turf will eliminate the need for rest on the pitch, allowing additional teams and student groups to move to Bunkelman. MHS’s new head football coach, David Mifsud, is excited not just for his own players, but for all programs that will benefit from the improvements on the pitch.

“He’s a tremendous asset to the athletic department, the group and, really, the community,” Mifsud said. “Not only will the football program benefit greatly from this type of facility, but so will the youth programs.”

The football program will be able to play on a surface comparable to other high-level programs in the state. Additionally, the women’s soccer program will be able to have higher quality practices and training for their spring season, Mifsud said.

Ray agreed, saying bringing football from Custer Elementary to the high school campus would be just the start.

“I have a roster that equates to about 1,100 students who are going to benefit from the new facility,” Ray said.

He said that in addition to high school football, other programs would benefit, including Monroe College Football, First Downers Football, Elementary Flag Football, Boys and Girls Football, Squad, Baseball, softball, gym class, the high school track team, and the college track team.

“Elementary schools will be able to spend their field days here,” Ray added. “The group can organize a festival. We will be able to accommodate track teams with more than two teams. Of course, we will organize the graduation ceremony here.

Board Vice Chairman Larry Zimmerman said the board is pleased that resources are available to invest in stadium facilities.

“We want to provide the best facilities for MPS students,” Zimmerman said. “We are always looking for ways to increase opportunities for Monroe public school students.”

Zimmerman added that while upfront costs are higher for a grass field, synthetic fields don’t require mowing, fertilizing, seeding and aeration. The district will also save on water, paint, stencils and line tracing.

He estimated that savings of $25,000 or more in annual maintenance costs will help offset initial costs over time.

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