The artificial turf has been removed at Lakota West High School for a turf replacement process. Lakota West and Lakota East are both in the process of replacing turf on the football fields. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Both Lakota high schools reinstalling artificial football fields, their second each

The original turf fields were first installed in 2009 at both schools.

The fields, which impact thousands of students beyond prep athletes and marching band members, have a predicted life of about a decade, depending on frequency of use and weather conditions.

“The greatest impact of the turf has proven to be usage,” said Scott Kaufman, athletic director for Lakota West.

“The stadium was used (since 2009) for five football games per year, no practices, youth groups or anything. Since turf, the stadium is used several hours per day all year, almost every day,” said Kaufman, referring to school physical education classes, other sports such as girls and boys soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, marching band practices and band competitions.

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Lakota’s prep fields and stadiums are also regularly rented out for youth and adult sports leagues during many warm weather evenings and weekends.

Construction, which this week saw workers remove the old field surfaces, is expected to be finished with installation of the new playing surface by June 1.

Work was moved to an earlier schedule due to the Lakota highs schools being closed by state orders in March – along with all Ohio K-12 schools – as a preventive measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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In 2009 the first-ever installation of plastic turf fields at the two high schools cost more than $1.5 million each due to the necessity of having to construct an underlying foundation and water drainage system.

The current installation of new turf and underlying padding will cost each school about $500,000, said Kaufman.

Richard Bryant, athletic director of Lakota East, said “the project was slated for (start) early summer that would have created some very tight timelines for fall sports.”

Both Lakota high schools are members of the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) sports league, which for football games draw some of the largest prep sports crowds in southwest Ohio.

“Scott and I identified a potential need to move the project timeline up while the facilities were closed,” said Bryant.

Of Butler County’s 10 public school systems, all but two – New Miami and Madison Schools – still have natural grass prep sports fields, though Madison officials have announced it is close to reaching its funding goal to upgrade to an artificial playing surface.

MORE: Madison will play another season on grass as artificial turf project is delayed

“Turf has certainly become the norm,” said Kaufman.

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“In fact, many schools now have multiple turf fields,” he said, citing Mason, Fairfield, Middletown, Sycamore and other GMC high schools.

“We’re investigating a second field, but we know we need to space them out so we don’t have an overload of replacement costs at the same time. So we’re looking at possibilities in four to five years,” said Kaufman.

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