Synthetic turf will be installed at Legends Stadium, following a unanimous vote by the Kalispell Public Schools board of trustees on Tuesday.
The board decision came after a public-comment period was held. About 30 responses were received by the district from community members, including former athletes who played on the field and current football officials.
Most of the responses were favorable to synthetic turf, calling it “long overdue,” a “definite must,” and an “investment.” However, there were some unfavorable responses.
One respondent had a clear preference for natural grass, noting that it remains the standard when put up against alternatives, adding that a maintenance plan should be put in place with input from experts to avoid, notably, a crown that plagues the existing field.
Another less favorable response was from a parent who was concerned about potential health effects related to exposure to chemicals contained in synthetic turf and infill.
The recommendation to use artificial over natural grass came from a 12-member committee made up of administrators, coaches, athletic trainers, doctors, a trustee and community member, which looked at number of injuries, costs, longevity and maintenance of natural versus synthetic.
Some of the reasoning for using synthetic turf was to increase playability and mitigate ongoing drainage issues that have occurred over the past decades, which has resulted in a muddy and uneven surface.
Kalispell joins Billings, Butte and Missoula schools that all play football and soccer on synthetic turf. Great Falls is slated to install it this year.
Approximately $958,100 is earmarked from a $28.8 million high school district bond issue to upgrade Legends Stadium, located at 1230 Second Ave. W. in Kalispell. It will be the first major effort to improve field conditions since 2000. Other improvements are planned for the officials’ locker room and expanded seating.
Matheson can be reached at 758-4431 or email@example.com.