August 13, 2013
Duluth News Tribune
New $500K turf at Public Schools Stadium gets rave reviews
By Louie St. George III
It was back to the grind Monday for high school athletes competing in fall sports, and as the Duluth Denfeld football team wrapped up its first formal practice at Public Schools Stadium, players shed their shoes and bee-lined for the locker room.
Going shoeless never felt so good.
After 12 years of heavy use, the stadium’s dilapidated artificial turf was replaced this summer. And the new surface is as plush as it is practical.
“I could take a nap on it,” deadpanned Denfeld senior Greg Gustafson.
It’s not likely that Hunters coach Frank Huie would approve of a mid-practice snooze, but he couldn’t object to his players’ praise for the new-age FieldTurf.
Installed at a price tag of $500,000, it is expected to last 12-15 years while outperforming the old turf, according to Kerry Leider, property and risk manager for the Duluth school district. The base cost for the FieldTurf was $416,000, but
additional amenities — new goal posts, lines for lacrosse and 9-man football, removal and disposal of the old turf and a midfield Hunters logo (paid for by Denfeld activity and booster club funds) — pushed the final tally to half a million dollars, some of which will be recouped by field-rental fees.
For Huie, it was well worth it.
“Obviously, (the old) field, over a 12-, 13-year period, that thing had been worn
down,” Huie said. “It was more like an older carpet, like the old artificial turf where it was tougher and harder. The kids are liking this way better.”
Heavy use had taken its toll on the previous SprinTurf field, which was installed for $325,000 in 2001 during the renovation of PSS. It had hardened significantly while morphing into an unforgiving and slower surface.
The new field features more padding.
“You feel much lighter on your feet when you’re running on it,” Denfeld senior Ben Halverson said. “The old stuff was so hard and you kind of felt slow.”
Gustafson said the new turf makes cutting much easier.
“It gives you a lot more cushion on your cutting,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer to run on.”
The large logo centering the 50-yard line was perhaps the most popular feature among the players, who said they now feel like they have a true home stadium to call their own. After the consolidation of Duluth’s public high schools from three to two, Duluth East built its own on-campus stadium, leaving Denfeld as PSS’ primary tenant.
The logo, which was added for $10,200 and stretches about 15 yards, hammers that point home.
“There’s a lot of pride in that,” Halverson said. “Before it was just Public Schools Stadium and everyone played there, but now it’s home of the Hunters and your own field.”
PSS hosts 100-plus athletic events each year..