With a few final things left to do, the Soldotna High School turf track and field project is on schedule to be completed before the first home football game for the Stars.
As long as the weather continues to cooperate, stripers are scheduled to finalize the track portion of the facility next week, the center-field logo has to be finished and the protective fencing needs to be constructed, Mark Fowler, Kenai Peninsula Borough purchasing and contracting officer, said.
“The project is moving forward and on schedule,” Fowler said. “It should be complete by August 22.”
With football practice for the SoHi Stars beginning Aug. 4, Fowler should the team should be able to utilize the field for practice.
SoHi Principal Todd Syverson said having a quality turf surface puts the student players on the same level as Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough athletes.
“Having that type of a quality surface to practice, to play games on, it’s just going to up our game,” he said.
The new quality playing surfaces should increase chances to win bids for state meets and tournaments, Syverson said.
“We’re kind of trying to partner with Kenai Central,” he said. “Things like state soccer and state track, it really opens some doors for us to be able to host those type of events which it would be very good for our local economy.”
Syverson said SoHi hasn’t had a quality track or hosted a meet in 15 years. The field should also thaw more quickly and be ready for soccer practice earlier in the spring so players won’t have to fight mud and water.
While community members are welcome to use the new facility when it’s completed, Syverson said people need to be mindful of protecting the surface.
He said wheels — strollers, bicycles and rollerblades — can’t be used on the track and animals and food and drinks need to be kept off the turf.
“It’s a quality facility,” he said. “The track is supposed to last longer. The turf field is an excellent turf field and we did spend the money, but it was designed to last Alaskan winters and hold up. … When you spend that kind of money, you want it to last. Now we have to be good citizens and take care of it.”
The state and borough both provided funding for the project, which in total cost about $2.7 million.
On Aug. 30, which is the first home SoHi Stars football game, the school will host a rededication of the Justin Maile Field. Syverson said plans for the ceremony are being finalized.
“We’re going to kind of make a fun day of it,” he said. … “We’re just going to have a community celebration.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.