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Hamilton High School makes $400,000 stadium upgrade with new turf

The old artificial turf at Hamilton High School’s Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium has been rolled up as part of a $400,000 replacement project. The new turf will cover a larger area and have new features. The work is expected to be done by March 1. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
The old artificial turf at Hamilton High School’s Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium has been rolled up as part of a $400,000 replacement project. The new turf will cover a larger area and have new features. The work is expected to be done by March 1. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

The future foundation of Big Blue Hamilton football will soon be rolled out in a $400,000 project to replace decade-old artificial turf.

In the process, the famed gridiron at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium will get bluer.

The new artificial turf field, which will also provide a new, all-weather playing surface for girls and boys soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, marching bands and physical education classes, will soon be spooled out across Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium on the Hamilton High School campus.

“The turf replacement project is off to a very smooth start and we expect the rolls of new turf to arrive next week to begin installation,” said Larry Knapp, business manager for the Butler County school system.

“Hamilton Big Blue fans will see some changes in how the new field looks, with the most notable changes being the blue end zones on the football field, the improved lines for the soccer teams and the larger block lettering (on the new field),” Knapp said.

More than a decade ago saw the revolution of prep athletic fields in Southwest Ohio switching from natural grass to plastic turf. The artificial turf fields, which ranged in costs from $1 million to $2 million, greatly expanded the frequency of sports field use during the school year for both boys and girls sports but also the average student participating in physical education classes.

In the long-term, the so-called “turf” fields were cost effective, safer and a source of income for area school districts who rented the playing surfaces out to non-school youth sports and adult recreational leagues year-around.

The first generation of fake grass fields were projected by manufacturers to last about a decade.

As in Hamilton’s case, the $400,000 in replacement costs are substantially less than the original purchase price for schools because the underlying support and drainage systems remain in place.

“The cost of the replacement project is covered completely through the districts permanent improvement bond that was passed by the community back in 2006,” Knapp said.

Other changes include the replacement of a grass area with turf on the east end of the field that will “afford our track teams additional area for warm ups and stretching as that is the high jump and long jump area of the stadium as well,” he said.

The new field installation is scheduled to be done by March 1.

The impact of maintaining a state-of-the-art field reaches far beyond the high school campus boundaries, said Joni Copas, spokeswoman for the 9,000-student Hamilton school system.

“Our Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium has hosted football play-off and soccer tournament games and we hear many positive comments from the organizers, officials, visiting teams, and fans,” Copas said.

“This not only showcases our school facilities, but also the city of Hamilton and can have economic benefits for the city as visitors who travel to our community may also take advantage of restaurants, gas stations” and other city businesses,” she said.

“Hamilton High School’s athletic facilities are second to none in the state and our community takes pride in these outstanding facilities,” she said.