North Murray High School will be able to build a field house for its football program and may also get turf for its football field, thanks to a private donor. The total donation would be valued at $1.1 million.
North Murray athletic director Roger Rainey said construction of the field house will begin “probably next week.” He said the donor is considering helping the school put in synthetic turf.
“Right now, the field house is finalized,” Rainey said.
School boards must follow a specific process when constructing new buildings on public property, including sourcing at least three bids before awarding one, Rainey said. However, he said the donor wanted to handle the bid process. At Monday’s Murray County Board of Education meeting, board members approved allowing the donor to build on school property.
Once completed, the field house — which is planned for behind the south end zone of Mountaineer Stadium — will be donated to the school system.
“At the end of construction, once it’s completed, he will hand the keys over to the school board and sign off, saying he isn’t the owner anymore,” Rainey said, noting the donor approached school officials about the project and it will be used solely for football.
Rainey said there haven’t been any monetary donations given to the school yet. For the turf project, Rainey said the school board approved allowing a synthetic surface on the football field, so long as there is a donation.
He said school board members are handling the bid process for that and have met with representatives of FieldTurf in Calhoun, AstroTurf in Dalton and Shaw Sports Turf in Dalton. Rainey said board members are waiting on final bids from the companies and could receive bids from additional companies.
“Once we get the final bids, we will show them to (the donor) and go from there,” he said.
Rainey said putting in synthetic turf would cost between $400,000 and $600,000. David Gann, the school’s football coach, estimated the field house will cost around $600,000 and the total donation would be around $1.1 million.
“We’re getting bids to make sure the money that might be donated will be enough to pay for that stuff,” Gann said. “The first step was to ask (the board), ‘If this guy donated, could we do it?’ They approved it. Then we started asking for bids to see if that donation would cover the cost.”
However, Gann stressed the donor may hold off on the turf project.
“It could be the donor says, ‘Hey, let’s do the field house this year and then the turf another year,’” Gann said.
Both Gann and Rainey estimated the cost of maintaining a grass field is around $16,000 per year. This includes painting lines, numbers and logos, planting fertilizer and other general upkeep duties.
Christian Heritage is the only local school with synthetic turf, which was installed last year by Shaw Sports Turf during an upgrade of the school’s stadium. The private school did not disclose costs of the field, but according to the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram newspaper, the 89,000-square-foot PowerBlade HP+ surface — the same surface used at Christian Heritage — installed in August 2010 at Leominster School cost approximately $1 million. Turf fields were installed in Cobb County at an average cost of $550,000 to $600,000, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. Published reports place the cost of the turf field at Ringgold High’s Don Patterson Stadium, installed by Shaw last year, at $450,000.
“Over time, it will save the athletic department some money,” Gann said. “Plus, it’s a big help as far as injury and safety to kids. When you go to anybody’s field in August, the grass is thick and soft and looks good. You go to a field in November, it’s hard and dangerous.
“It also helps your uniforms as far as how long they last. You don’t have to worry about mud, just sweat.”
North Murray began classes in 2009. In 2012, the football program went 5-5 for its best season since starting varsity play in 2010.