The modernization of Ross Local Schools’ athletics started Wednesday by the shovelful.
Officials with the rural Butler County school system — one of the last in the area to still play sports on natural grass — posed with shovels at a ceremonial ground breaking on the installation of the district’s first artificial turf field.
The almost entirely privately funded $850,000 plastic grass field is scheduled to be ready by when students return to classes in August.
“It’s long overdue,” said Jake Richards, athletic director, as he and more than 60 other district officials, donors and athletic supporters gathered on the soon-to-be-gone grassy field.
“The community has stepped up to support it. It’s about offering our student athletes, our students and our community the best possible opportunities moving forward,” said Richards.
“This particular project says this community supports its local schools,” he said.
Only Butler County’s Madison and New Miami schools still have natural grass sports fields, though Madison school officials have said they are close to reaching full funding for its plastic turf field.
Artificial turf fields range in cost from $500,000 to more than $1 million, and usually last from 10 to 15 years of use.
Construction is set to begin on Ross Schools’ new field June 10 and finish by Aug. 9.
Richards said the field also will be available for use and rental to area youth and adult sports teams.
“During a six-month capital campaign, both corporate and community donors have contributed nearly $500,000 in an effort to consolidate the existing grass football and soccer game fields into one synthetic turf surface at the current stadium,” school officials said.
The field will be lined for football and soccer, and allow for multi-sport training throughout the year.
Brian Martin, principal of Ross High School, said “this is really a historic moment for the Ross school district.”
“We are so appreciative of our business partners and our donors for providing this opportunity for our students. It’s truly going to benefit the entire Ross community,” said Martin.
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