Soldotna High School is awaiting Gov. Parnell’s signature on the Alaska Legislature’s approval of $1.5 million for a new track and artificial turf field.
The high school’s current six-lane track is 33 years old, and the school hasn’t hosted a meet for 10 to 15 years, Principal Todd Syverson said.
With the grant the high school will be able to build an eight-lane track turf field, allowing them to host larger meets and even apply to host state meets.
A turf field will allow spring sports teams to play on a safe, solid surface because it will thaw and dry more quickly than the current natural grass field.
Many of the fields the Soldotna sports teams play on at away games and meets are turf. The Soldotna teams have been at a slight disadvantage by not having the option to practice on turf at home.
“It will kind of even out the playing field,” Syverson said. … “Our students will be able to practice and play on turf.”
Players won’t be the only ones benefiting from the updated track and field.
Updating to turf means the school will able to host more games and meets in Soldotna which will bring more people to the community and into hotels and restaurants.
“Rather than always traveling, we can bring people down to our community,” Syverson said. “This is a way for us to give something back to our community.”
Syverson also said he could “envision some adult soccer opportunities” on the turf field.
Of the $3.1 million approved for both Soldotna and Kenai Central High School in the fiscal year 2013 Legislative budget, $1.2 million was designated for Soldotna for their turf track. Additional state funds were sought to finance a field in addition to the track. Borough chief of staff, Paul Ostrander said breaking ground on Soldotna’s track has been postponed until funds for both a track and field have been received.
Kenai received $1.9 million of the fiscal year 2013 state funds to finance both a turf track and field. The school was also approved for a $200,000 grant from the US Soccer Foundation and the city of Kenai approved $125,000 and project management for the venture.
“The benefit of these kinds of facilities … it gives you almost unlimited play time in the summer on the field,” Rick Koch, Kenai city manager said. “Plus in the spring and the fall … you’re on these fields a month early and a month later than on a regular field.”
He said the project is about 35 percent complete at Kenai and is about three weeks ahead of schedule.
“These fields are impressive pieces of work,” Koch said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.