BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Brunswick County Schools is considering replacing the worn-down, overused natural grass in its three high school stadiums with artificial turf. Parents and coaches alike have expressed support for the proposal to improve field conditions.
The school district requested Brunswick County appropriate $2.29 million from its School Capital Reserve Fund to help cover the expected $2.7 million investment, according to the agenda for the county’s Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday. The district already identified $410,000 from other sources it can put toward the project.
The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners will consider the proposal at its meeting on Monday.
The stadiums at North Brunswick High School, South Brunswick High School and West Brunswick High School are used by football, soccer, lacrosse, track, marching band and more. All three schools currently have natural grass fields.
"Despite additional expense and effort, the quality of our stadium grass remains subpar due to overuse," according to the proposal.
In the past, school leaders considered adding lighting, concession areas, restrooms and bleachers to the practice fields to create more space for sports as one possible solution to the grass overuse, but the expense and maintenance cost led staff to lean toward artificial turf instead.
The decision must be made quickly, school leaders wrote, because of an ongoing, costly drainage problem at West Brunswick High School and a plan to add new irrigation and sod to the North Brunswick field.
Eddie Addison, a parent of three kids involved in sports at Brunswick County Schools, strongly supports replacing the grass with artificial turf.
“The big buzz right now is this artificial turf. As soon I heard it, I about fell out of my chair because everywhere we go they have it. It makes them look they’re more into their schools, and we are just as much into ours,” said Addison.
Addison believes artificial turf would increase students’ excitement for the sport and encourage parents to become more involved.
“I think it will rally the kids more because they will want to be in these sports," he said. “Because face it, they go to these other places and they see them on turf, everybody is looking good. When they come out here with us, when they get done, we’re going to the laundry, it’s a mud field a dirt field.”
Athletic directors at Brunswick County Schools support the artificial turf project. Proposal writers said they did not find any data that turf could cause an increase in injury or illness.
Will Hutchinson, Head Women's Lacrosse Coach at South Brunswick High School, believes the artificial turf is a good investment.
“I think personally it’s a good idea. Probably long overdue. There’s a lot of benefits to it,” said Hutchinson. “I remember when I played here, the field was bad. It was a lot of dirt, a lot of spurs, a lot of that stuff. Anything that benefits these kids, they certainly deserve it. These kids are out here working hard and they certainly deserve something nice they can call their own.”
New Hanover High School, which currently plays and practices on artificial turf, has seen a decrease in injuries, according to the athletic director.
Over the course of 10 years, the natural grass and new field option would cost the school system $2.96 million, while the artificial turf would cost $3.15 million. That translates to $19,000 extra cost per year for the artificial turf, according to the proposal’s financial analysis.
“I hope that rubber stamp, whoever has it, puts it real hard and real quick, because it also builds self esteem with our kids. When they see all of that, it just makes them feel better about their sport and what they’re doing. And that’s what this is about,” said Addison.