West Allis gains a new home field advantage
Local teams, and public, will appreciate synthetic turf this season
West Allis — Saturday's Nathan Hale High School football game against Lake Geneva will not only kick off the season, but it will introduce the new synthetic turf field.
The synthetic turf on the field used by both West Allis public high schools, plus many youth teams, is expected to put an end to a muddy and sometimes an unplayable field conditions, said Dax Rodriguez, Central's head football coach.
"I'm looking forward to not praying for no rain," the veteran coach said.
With up to seven football games a week on the field plus soccer, the middle of the natural-turf field would turn into mud by mid-September if there was any amount of rain, Rodriguez said.
"It was bad. In the middle it was chewed up — mostly mud and lack of grass," Rodriguez said, noting that Hale even had to move a home game once to another field because of such conditions.
But the new field will put West Allis right up there with Brookfield Central, Wauwatosa East and Marquette University High School, all of which also have synthetic turf, he said.
Brandon Ehret. head football coach at Hale, agreed.
"The playing surface is going to be outstanding," Ehret said. "I believe the kids will notice a difference immediately in regards to impact and the speed on it."
Players and the public alike should notice the difference, he said.
"We're extremely thrilled to have what will be one of the top facilities in the state of Wisconsin," Ehret said. "It's great from a football standpoint and also, hopefully, something the whole community takes pride in."
The turf's core is recycled tires. The rubber pellets and padding provide cushioning, said Brian Vissers, district spokesman.
The National Football League and the Green Bay Packers have given the district a $200,000 grant for the field as part of the NFL's efforts to promote safety in sports, especially concussions from falling onto hard-packed fields, Vissers said.
"For safety reasons, this is the best thing we can have for concussions," Deb Rouse, director of business services, concurred.
The schools also have a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor.
Together, the grant and donation account for more than half the $450,000 cost. The field project also includes a separate $500,000 in drainage work that would have been needed whether synthetic turf or grass was used for the field, Rouse said. So, the total project comes to about $950,000.
The district is using $500,000 from the recreation fund balance for the project, she said. To pay the remaining $200,000, the district is seeking sponsors. So far, nine have paid for sponsorships and others are pending with their payments still coming, Rouse said.
AT A GLANCE
Paid sponsors of the West Allis football/soccer field as of Aug. 16 are:
National Sign & Design
Gordon Flesch Company
Sport Clips haircuts
First Student, Inc.
West Allis Little League
Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church
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