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Grant paves way for possible turf facelift at Cardinal Stadium

July 11, 2013|By KEITH TAYLOR | ktaylor@winchestersun.com

Steven Collins hopes the grass becomes greener on the other side at Cardinal Stadium.

The George Rogers Clark football coach recently received a grant for $700,000 from the Community Sports Development Council to install an artificial playing surface, replacing the current hybrid bermuda surface at the field. In order to complete the project, the additional costs of the renovation, estimated at approximately $300,000, would need to be secured through additional funds raised or supplied by the school district, the community and cooperate and private businesses. The total cost for the project is approximately $1.2 million.

Collins applied for the grant last winter in an effort to upgrade the playing surface at Cardinal Stadium.

“I didn’t really know what was going to happen with our facilities and this is totally a God-thing,” he said. “I took a picture of our facility and facilities around us and showed them. They came and looked at our field and they’re a company that helps 10 to 12 institutions a year and they chose us. The $700,000 pays a lot of the up front costs to getting things done. It’s their way of giving back (to communities).”

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Collins said an upgrade would help eliminate safety concerns with the current natural surface and give the Cardinals a place to practice. Currently the team practices on a natural grass surface located adjacent to Cardinal Stadium. He added that all levels of football teams from the Civitan ranks through high school would be able to use the field.

“It would be a community thing where everybody plays, is a part of and it will give us a nice facility,” he said.

The Clark coach said the program is behind other surrounding schools such as Montgomery County and Madison Central when it comes to sports facilities. In addition to a stadium upgrade, Madison Central had an artificial turf installed last fall. A timetable hasn’t been set for the construction of a new field at George Rogers Clark High School.

“I know they’re eventually going to build our stadium the new school, but we just don’t know when it’s going to happen,” he said. “It would put us up to par even better with some of the people around us. We’re a 6A school and football-wise, we have about 16 teams that play football. Just in high school alone, we have 110 kids (playing football). It’s going to help a lot with the need that we have and solve a big problem.”

In addition to football games, Collins added the field can be used for a variety of events.

“Our band can practice out here and hold band competitions,” he said. “During the spring season with baseball and softball when you have bad weather days, you can’t play games on it, but our baseball and softball teams can take field practice on it. We’re going to continue to have graduation here and camps in the summer. It will serve as a multi-purpose (venue).”

Once additional funding is secured, Collins said work on the project can begin.

“Four to five weeks is all it takes and they can have it installed,” he said. “We’re kind of behind the eight-ball. They would like to do it this summer and have it ready to go in August.
“We’re still in that time window, but that window is kind of shrinking.”

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