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Oxford set to become "Boise State East" with blue artificial turf

School will begin construction for navy blue surface at football stadium in April

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Come August, Oxford High School might be known as “Boise State East.”

Boise State University is known to have the country’s only blue artificial playing surface in its football stadium, but Oxford will be getting its own blue turf.

On Monday night at the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education meeting, it was announced that a group within the community will donate a new artificial surface to the football field at Oxford High School that’ll replace the current grass field.

The color of the field won’t be the typical green surface, however.

It’ll be navy blue, and since Boise State’s field is royal blue, it’s believed that Oxford High School will have the only navy blue artificial surface in the country.

“I’m just excited to be able to do this and present this to the schools,” said local business owner Jim Reis, who is the chairmen of the turf committee that’s been trying to get a new artificial surface at the high school.

Construction of the surface is expected to begin in April, with the first big event on it scheduled for Aug. 26 when Oxford hosts Division 1 state champion and arch rival Lake Orion in the season-opening football game for both teams that’ll mark the first time Oxford has hosted Lake Orion for a football game in almost three decades.

“We can’t wait for it to go in and we can’t wait to play on it,” Oxford head coach Bud Rowley said. “I really think it’ll make our field a showcase.”

But the benefits of the new field will stretch way beyond football.

Currently, the soccer and lacrosse teams at Oxford play at Oxford Elementary School for fear of breaking down the grass field.

Not only will those teams be able to play on the new field at the high school, which will lessen some transportation concerns after school and make games more visible for high school students, but the school can also be better suited to host events such as band competitions, parks and recreation activities, state semifinal football games or other youth sporting events that’ll mean more field rental money for the district.

A new turf field also will mean more physical education classes can be held at the school during the spring and fall without fears of wearing down the surface.

“The opportunities it’ll make for kids, families, business and the local economy will make for a tremendous addition,” Oxford athletic director Mike Watson said.

Oxford has hoped to install a new turf field for some time, but saw a couple of bond issues that would’ve provided the funding get rejected.

Reis said the focus then turned to raising the money privately, with one anonymous donor agreeing to pay a good portion of the cost.

While the funds necessary to get the field installed have been secured and a contract has been established with Pro Grass Synthetic Turf Systems to put in the field, money to pay for the full financing of the project still needs to be raised.

Reis said about $250,000 still needs to be raised, but the money that’ll be saved from maintenance costs and additional revenue the school district can receive from renting the field out will help tremendously to pay off the project in full in the future.

In addition, once the project is paid in full, Reis said a fund will be established so that when the surface needs replacing 10 or 15 years down the road, the financing will already be in place.

Oxford pays about $21,000 a year to maintain the grass field that Reis said hosts about 60 events a year, while the cost to maintain the new artificial surface that can host hundreds of events a year will go down to roughly $4,000 a year.

The reason the school district wants to get the project going this year is that the grass field is being torn up anyway in April to address drainage problems and to refine the adjacent track.

Instead of waiting a couple of years to tear up the field again, Reis said it made more sense to install the blue turf now while the grass field was being torn up.

For those interested in contributing to the turf fund, visit www.oxfordboosters.com.

E-mail Keith Dunlap at keith.dunlap@oakpress.com

Last Updated: 1/24/2011 8:09:48 PM EST


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