SHELDON—Those fundraising for a potential turf field in Sheldon are becoming more vocal as the silent phase starts to wrap up.
Sheldon High School activities director Eric Maassen was at the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation lunch Thursday, Aug. 19, at the Sheldon Community Services Center to provide an update on the turf field project.
The Sheldon School District is in collaboration with Northwest Iowa Community College for the project.
The two entities have been conducting a silent phase of fundraising this summer for the approximately $1.2 million project that would replace the grass football field at Sheldon High School with an artificial turf field.
The public phase of the fundraising begins in the fall.
The school district and NCC hopes to have the turf football field installed and ready to go by the start of the 2022 high school football season if the $1.2 million goal is reached by March.
Maassen said there are many benefits for the school district if a turf football field is installed.
He said a turf football field will be used for more than football, which is a misconception he has run into when pitching the project.
Maassen said the high school soccer programs and the marching band also would benefit from a turf field.
The soccer field is located north of the high school parking lot.
“Something that is not ideal for soccer are the metal drainage grates that are on the soccer field,” Maassen said. “Yes, it would benefit football, but it provides our soccer team to play on a topnotch playing surface that is flat and smooth and I don’t have to set cones out for.”
The marching band annually hosts the Iowa State Marching Band Festival for the region in October so the field is not in perfect condition since it is held in the middle of the football season.
“A couple of years it snowed and it turns out the cold and the mud aren’t ideal for that contest,” Maassen said. “This turf would be something that would handle all weather. We talk about that contest, we have a football game that Friday night and we are just hoping the field holds out until the next day for the contest.”
He said students in physical education classes also will be use the turf field.
The major benefit for NCC would be the ability to add to its burgeoning athletic department. The NCC Thunder shooting team started three years ago and a turf football field would allow the community college to add men’s and women’s soccer teams to it athletic offerings.
The two programs would not tentatively start competing until the 2023 soccer season, which is played in the fall.
“That would be huge not just to NCC and their enrollment and growing their footprint here but also for the community,” Maassen said. “As NCC grows, you are talking 60 to 80 players for those teams, that’s 60 to 80 new students who are right here in the community buying groceries, paying bills, living life right here.”
NCC president John Hartog added “synergy is a good thing.”
“Because if NCC goes forward with this plan for soccer, how much better than to do it in a partnership with the city and the school district?” Hartog said. “It’s financially smart, it’s working together to accomplish even more with a more cost-effective solution. It’s win-win.”
Maassen said the life expectancy for the turf field would be 10-15 years.
Fertilizing, watering and mowing are the three big projects to maintain the current grass field and each fall the field has to be painted.
“We spend $5,000 to $6,000 a year on paint alone,” Maassen said. “That’s a big expense that we have.”
The maintenance for the turf field is already worked into the $1.2 million cost for the project.
“One of the companies that we are working with would provide the yearly maintenance,” Maassen said. “You rake it, you drag it, there’s extra pellets to fill the soft spots — very little maintenance along the way.”
The school district and NCC has raised $700,000 of the $1.2 million project.
“Between the school, NCC and the businesses we have worked with,” Maassen said. “We have met with many businesses and have had really positive interactions with them so far.”
The turf field is not the only project on the Sheldon School District’s radar. Maassen also hopes to raise enough money for a new video scoreboard from Daktronics but those plans are only tentative.
“This is something that we think would make the rest of the project pop,” Maassen said. “Another cool thing I’ve seen done is having a movie night out on the turf field. This would be for our football, NCC soccer, our soccer, just another piece that we are working on as we progress. A rough blueprint.”
The scoreboard is not part of the $1.2 million turf project and would cost $300,000-$350,000.
“We aren’t doing it for sure,” Maassen said. “It’s something we are considering.”