DEFOREST (WKOW) — Members of DeForest High’s school community are pushing for a new athletic field of synthetic turf, despite paltry fundraising toward a nearly million dollar goal.
School athletic officials are so dissatisfied with the condition of the field at DeForest’s DMB Community Bank at Stalder Field, the school’s football team chose a neutral site, the synthetic turf field in McFarland, to host a state playoff game with Monroe on Friday.
When DeForest voters approved a $125 million referendum this year for an intermediate school and other projects, no money was included for a new athletic field. Athletic Director Mike McHugh launched a fundraising drive for the field, knowing the DeForest School Board had pledged to match up to $475,000 for the project.
McHugh says to date, $39,000 has been raised.
“Really disappointing,” McHugh says.
McHugh says while it was hoped robust fundraising would have allowed the transition to a new, synthetic turf field in time for football and soccer this fall, he says he understands voters in the school district recently agreed to higher taxes to support needs in the school district. McHugh says he remains optimistic because the DeForest community has staunchly supported the athletic program.
McHugh says in addition to McFarland, area schools with synthetic turf fields include Middleton and Waunakee. He says Waunakee is considering a similar, synthetic turf soccer field to complement its synthetic football surface. McHugh says Monona Grove and Stoughton high schools are also looking at converting to synthetic turf fields.
“It’s good for the kids, and for future opportunity (for the school),” says McHugh.
Kelley Trucking, LLC in Arlington is one of the businesses that has already pledged funds for the effort to bring a new athletic field to DeForest High. Company owner Dennis Kelley is a ’70 DeForest High graduate, as are his children, grandchildren and relatives. He says members of the family business decided a $1,000 donation made sense, to help the project and as a tribute to the memory of a relative who was a former, standout player on the football team.
Kelley says modernizing the field surface goes beyond benefits for the student body. “It can attract people to the community and help economic development,” Kelley says.
McHugh says the projected cost of the field proposal could be reduced by approximately $200,000 if a new, collegiate-style scoreboard and other improvements are delayed.
McHugh says one firm being considered to install a synthetic turf field could begin work as late as May 2020 and still have the field transition ready for fall sports.
But McHugh says if the synthetic turf proposal is delayed, school officials next month will consider replacing the existing, deteriorating field turf with new, natural turf. He says the lengthy, replacement process would result in the football team playing all of its home games next year at another site, or sites.