“The need is clear,” Westlake Athletic Development Foundation (WADF) leaders are saying about scrapping the current natural field at Westlake High School with a synthetic turf field. “The current natural grass field is in poor condition and has been a challenge to maintain in our Northeastern Ohio climate for years.”
The existing sports field at the high school is in poor shape, primarily due to weather conditions typical of the Cleveland area. Muddy fields lead to limited use of the field, which does not respond well to normal usage or wet conditions. As a result, field use is limited to 40 days per year and requires constant maintenance.
WADF chair Craig Catanzarite said the foundation want to raise enough funds to put in artificial turf at the high school stadium.
The Foundation, formed in February of 2012, has raised approximately $170,000 from personal and residents’ donations.
“Ultimately we’d like to reach about $650,000,” Catanzarite said. With added donations from area businesses, community leaders and residents, a new turf field could be a reality at Westlake High School.
A turf field will allow continuous daily usage throughout the year. In addition to football and lacrosse and other sporting events the stadium and field are used by for the high schools gym classes, band, cheerleading programs and performances.
If the group reaches its goal, additional funding could come from the city.
He is hoping a good turnout at the planned March 16 Demon Green Bash Fundraiser will move the project forward.
The fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at the St. Demetrios Cultural Center in Rocky River. Tickets are $50 each for food, drinks, music and more and are available through the Westlake High athletic office, Lehman's Deli or purchase them online here.
“There will be live music, heavy appetizers, unlimited beer and wine and the ticket gets you into the reverse raffle,” he said. “It should be a fun event. We’d like go get a turnout of about 400.”
A timeline hasn’t been set as to when they expect to raise the money, but the sooner the better.
“I don’t see it happening this year,” he said, noting that the funds would need to be in by May for the field to be installed in a given year. But he and other foundation members are hopeful, especially when the benefits are considered.
“The benefits of a turf field extend beyond the high school,” Catanzarite said.
A new field means the stadium will be available for youth football, soccer and baseball practice, elementary school field days, community events and more.
“It opens the door for youth football,” he said.
Savings of up to $25,000 per year
The WADF’s initial project calls for stadium improvements and the installation of a new state-of-the-art synthetic field at the high school. This entails replacing all of the natural grass inside the track with artificial turf, as well as refurbishing the stadium entrance. The resulting field means less cost for maintenance. Currently, the district spends approximately $30,000 per year maintaining the natural turf for lining, seeding, fertilizing, watering and mowing. Estimated maintenance costs for a turf field are $5,000 annually.
Surrounding high schools, including Bay Village, Fairview Park, Avon, Avon Lake and Rocky River all have installed turf fields.