Aug. 8—The softball field at Joplin High School will soon get new turf.
The unanimous vote last week by the Joplin Board of Education for the installation of new artificial turf came after board members on July 26 did not advance a similar proposal. Board members at that time said they wanted more information about artificial turf versus real grass for the high school athletic fields and the cost of ongoing maintenance for each.
"We're going for the economical approach," board President Jeff Koch said after last week's meeting. "We wanted to make sure we did our due diligence on the front end since it's a long-term project."
The softball field turf, in place since 2014, has "experienced normal issues due to fiber degradation, such as loss of infill, seam damage and extensive wear in high-use areas," administrators said in documentation provided to the board. They added that the replacement of turf at all four athletic fields at Joplin High School will take place over the next four years.
After board members on July 26 asked for a comparison of artificial turf with natural grass, administrators consulted with a senior associate athletic director at the University of Mississippi, who told them that the cost of maintaining a grass field is comparable to the cost of turf over a 10-year period, but that returning a turf field to natural grass would be costly, according to board documents.
Administrators also checked with the proposed contractor for the high school turf project, Mid-America Sports Construction, as well as Crossland Construction. The two companies estimated that the cost of pulling up artificial turf and base rock, bringing in dirt and installing a sprinkler system and natural grass to be around $1.1 million per field, plus additional costs for the purchase of equipment to care for natural grass.
As a result, administrators told the board at last week's meeting that they estimate transitioning the four athletic fields at Joplin High School from turf to natural grass would cost $4.7 million, plus an additional $2.35 million over a 10-year period for maintenance.
Following board approval last week, the new turf for the softball field will cost $355,151, to be paid from the 2022-23 capital outlay budget. The project will be completed by Mid-America Sports Construction.