YORKVILLE – Plans for installing a synthetic turf field at the Yorkville High School football stadium continue to evolve, with additional seating, vehicle parking and concessions expected to be part of what will be a multi-year project.
School District Y115 will install the turf field at the YHS stadium at an estimated cost of $1.2 million. Work will start in late May and is to be completed by Aug. 11.
“We have a very strict timeline to start in May and be ready in August,” district Director of Facility Operations Heather DiVerde said.
At the same time, the district will install artificial turf at a baseball field and a softball field immediately west of the high school building, with an October completion date.
The baseball field, now used by the boys sophomore team, will be converted into the varsity field, with the infield receiving the artificial turf treatment and the outfield remaining natural grass. The adjacent girls softball field will be fully turfed.
The cost of the synthetic turf at the baseball and softball fields is expected to cost roughly the same as its installation at the football stadium, DiVerde said.
At a recent committee meeting of the Yorkville School Board, Superintendent Tim Shimp said plans call for increasing the stadium’s seating capacity to 3,500 from the current 1,500.
DiVerde said this would be accomplished by replacing the home bleachers with a structure that would expand the seating footprint both to the north and south. Underneath the seating is to be storage for athletic and maintenance equipment, she said.
The district also is planning to increase vehicle parking, with a 130-space lot immediately north of the stadium and a 60-stall expansion of the high school parking lot along the west side of Game Farm Road.
In addition, the district is planning for construction of a building just outside the northwest corner of the stadium for concessions, restrooms and an office.
Across Game Farm Road at the baseball and softball fields, plans call for expanding the seating to accommodate 250 spectators at each field, along with announcer booths, dugout improvements and a new building for concessions and restrooms.
While DiVerde is confident that the turf installation work at all three fields can be completed this year and on time, most of the other improvements while be phased in.
The district is still working to determine the cost of the parking, seating and concession improvements, DiVerde said.
At their committee meeting, School Board members indicated support for the turf field project and the related improvements.
District Finance and Operations Director Kreg Wesley said the money to finance all of these improvements is coming from a capital fund that was generated through a bond issue.
In December of 2020, the district issued $9 million in general obligation bonds to finance capital projects.
By statute, 85% of that money must be spent within three years, meaning December of this year, Wesley said.
The money must be used only for capital projects like building improvements and not for operational costs such as salaries or academic programs.
So far, the district has spent slightly more than $3 million of that money on a variety of building improvements, Wesley said.
These include $800,000 for the second and third phases of the roof replacement project at the high school and $377,00 for the roof at Bristol Grade School.
Two major improvements performed last year were focused on school building security.
The district replaced, upgraded and expanded its security camera system at all school buildings for a cost of $1 million, while also installing bullet-resistant glass in school building entrances and vestibules at a cost of $35,000.
Meanwhile, the district spent another $750,000 of the bond money to finance the renovation work to transform a building that was purchased by the district into the Early Childhood Center, which opened its doors at the start of this school year.
More capital projects are on the way.
These include a new district maintenance building along West Saumonauk Street near Yorkville Academy, which is budgeted at $300,000. The building also will become the new home for the high school robotics program.
Other work that is slated includes improvements to the heating and ventilation systems at Bristol Bay and Grande Reserve elementary schools, at a projected cost of $800,000.
“If people think we’re spending this money only on high school athletics, that’s a misconception,” Wesley said.
The synthetic field for the football stadium is coming just a couple of years after the installation of a rubber running track around the grass field.
DiVerde said that a bridge will be built over the track to allow heavy excavation equipment onto the field for installation of the artificial turf.
Spectators will see only the green synthetic fibers, but underneath will be multiple layers of rubberized infill designed to protect athletes from concussions.
Below that, the subsurface will be fitted with pipes for the field’s drainage system.
The project will require that the area now used for the track-and-field team’s long jump, triple jump and pole vaulting to be relocated to the east of the stadium.
The current varsity baseball field, now located to the southeast of the stadium, will become the field for the sophomore team.