Crews started laying the turf at Bobcat Stadium last week, and are expected to be done by Memorial Day.
Student-athletes are appreciative of the fact the Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education decided to invest in the field. Several voiced their appreciation at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“It’s not just about football. …. For girls soccer, it’s going to be huge thing for us,” said Coach Erika Kimple.
Team member Emma Walker concurred, saying it will be nice to have to no longer worry about potholes in the field.
“I am very excited to have a game field where we are going to have ease with play and something we can be really, really proud of and help take our program to the next level,” she said.
In April, the board approved spending $725,000 to add all-weather turf at the football stadium to allow sports like soccer and lacrosse to play on a lighted field. Maumee Bay Turf Center, in Oregon, is doing the work.
Currently, the soccer teams cannot play games at a normal time because they need daylight to complete a game – and often games are called when the sun sets.
A turf field will allow soccer and lacrosse teams to join the football team and play under the lights.
Sydney Maas said Tuesday the turf is a “huge blessing” while Chloe Higgins said the new surface will allow the girls soccer team to play varsity games later in the day “like we do at every other school in the NLL.
“And all of our teams will be able to finish their games because we will have access to the lights,” Higgins said.
Football player Michael Boblitt also thanked the board for the opportunity for his team to play on a turf field.
“The opportunity really shows the community is behind us and makes us feel wanted,” he said.
“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve rolled an ankle on the football field, I could probably pay half of what it would cost,” said Marcus Hammer.
New football Coach Josh Wade also voiced thanks for the new turf.
“It seems like it’s been a while since something new has been done athletically,” he said. “The amount of people this impacts isn’t just us and high school sports.”
Youth games can be played there too, even in the rain.
“It benefits a lot of programs,” Wade said.
Yes, it is a football field but it also will be used for boys and girls soccer as well as lacrosse teams, and it will allow them to compete at night and at their home field, he said.
Josh Fox, the boys soccer coach, said Friday night lights are a big part of Northwest Ohio, but for a lot of other student athletes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night lights are just as special.
“To have that opportunity to finally have that experience at home is really an amazing thing and something we’re truly appreciative for,” he said.
Cole Ash, a member of the boys soccer team, said it was difficult to have other teams come to Bowling Green’s facility and overhear them talk about how bad the field was.
“So I think it’s just going to represent our school better having a nice field,” he said.
Bowling Green has not been considered as a site for football, soccer or lacrosse tournament games – something that Superintendent Francis Scruci hopes will change with the new turf.
The band programs also will benefit.
Bruce Corrigan, band director, said the Bobcat Band was looking forward to sharing the field with so many groups.
He compared the football field to the Performing Arts Center, which has been used for much more than musical performances since it opened.
“It’s going to be great, not just for the teams but for us,” Corrigan said.
Funding for the project is coming out of the district’s capital projects fund.
It is very likely the field will be available for use as early as the first week of June, Superintendent Francis Scruci said Friday.
“The field that we are getting … is a quality product,” he said, adding that it is being used for NFL stadiums across the nation.
It will last us 15 years, Scruci said.
“It’s just a good feeling that something positive is happening and it’s a community pride thing. We hope that the community understands what an impact this has beyond just the athletes,” he said.
Scruci said that crews dug down 44 inches and used the dirt on practice fields. Those fields will be seeded and should be ready for use by this fall.
Tim Dunn, a longtime youth sports supporter in the Bowling Green community, said Tuesday that the Bobcat Athletic Foundation is going to raise money to assist with the upgrades at the stadium.
He said he played football for the Bobcats in 1978 and used the same locker room that is there now.
The foundation’s goal is to build a new field house with locker rooms, a concession stand, ticket window, public restrooms and a weight room for student athletes.
They are in the early stages, Dunn said.
“We need everyone to come and help push for this building,” he said, calling out band, football, soccer and lacrosse supporters as well as the community.
“We hope to really push this as a community piece to piggy-back what you have done with the field,” Dunn said.
But that is not going to be the end of what this board is going to do, he said, alluding to the future needs of baseball or softball.
The foundation’s next meeting is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Carter Park.