By Nate Hiatt
Montgomery County Public Schools has started to put artificial turf in the athletic fields in some high schools. BCC, which has one of the smallest and most overused spaces for athletics, may eventually get a turf field, but it doesn’t seem like it will happen too soon.
So far, no schedule has been released as to who will get a field, or when. According to a Montgomery County report, there are three high school stadium fields with artificial turf: Richard Montgomery, Blair, and Walter Johnson.
When asked when he thought BCC would get a turf field, BCC’s new Athletic Director Mr. Jim Tapley said, “[schools usually get turf] when going through major renovations.” He also said, “BCC is scheduled for a major renovation in a few years.”
The turf field would cost around $1 million to install, however the cost to maintain it would be very minimal. On the other hand, maintaining a regular field costs $40,000 to $60,000. On top of that, turf fields can be rented out, without fear of the field being damaged, which can’t be done with a regular field.
A conservative estimate (let’s say the turf field costs $1.2 million to put in, with no generated revenue, and that a regular field costs $50,000 per year) would mean that the field would pay off in 30 years. Again, that’s a conservative estimate. With generated revenue, it would not take so long.
The big downside for turf (other than the cost) is the fact that the field would be unavailable during construction. Teams that play on the field would only play away games.
Turf is also known to be hotter than regular fields. This would vary depending on the color and material used for the artificial turf.
The big upside is the fact that turf doesn’t require much maintenance. On top of that, we can have more activities on the fields (gym class, double-header football games, etc.) without the field getting torn up.
The turf would probably be installed in four or so years, when the school is planned to be renovated.
However Mr. Tapley also said, “we have a beautiful stadium field.” This might make it more likely that other schools would get a turf field before BCC.
Turf fields are expensive to put in, but they are easier to maintain. According to Mr. Tapley, “we want turf.”