Mesa OKs installation of turf fields at 2 schools The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa OKs installation of turf fields at 2 schools

January 12th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Mesa OKs installation of turf fields at 2 schools

By Zach Alvira
Tribune Sports Editor

The Mesa Public Schools District Governing Board voted in favor of artificial turf fields to be installed at two of its schools for the 2021 school year.

The vote took place during the board’s Dec. 8 meeting. The approval allows for planning and construction to begin at any point during the second semester for new turf fields to be installed at Mesa and Mountain View high schools. Eventually, all six of the district’s high schools will be outfitted with artificial turf.

“I know this is a project Dr. (Steve) Hogan, our district athletic director, has been working on for a long time,” Mesa High School Athletic Director Jay Schnittger said. “The school district is really investing in facilities, and it’s much appreciated. Two years ago we improved our school letter grade, this past year we were awarded the A+ School of Excellence. Now, the district approved a new turf field for our facilities.

“I know it’s COVID and it’s a tough time, but it’s really given our community some positive vibes.”

The contract for the new turf fields was awarded to General Acrylics, Inc., a Phoenix-based company that specializes in artificial turf and other sport-court recreational projects.

The two fields are estimated to cost the district $3.9 million, which will include the removal of the existing fields at both locations, the installation of a new drainage and watering system, grooming equipment and a year of grooming from General Acrylics. Much like the fields installed this past year at Desert Vista and Tempe high schools, the field will feature sewn in game lines for a variety of sports, including football, soccer and others.

Schnittger said the field will be used for all sports programs at Mesa as well as the band and physical education classes. Overall, it adds a revamped look to one of the district’s oldest schools with historic tradition.

“This expands opportunities in the morning for our PE classes and it expands opportunities for practice times,” Schnittger said. “Hopefully, it will expand opportunities for the young student-athletes in our community and in the district. It really expands opportunities for kids in the community, not just the high school-aged kids.” 

Schnittger is not yet sure about a design of the field. Though he did mention possibly incorporating the school’s “Carry On” motto into the field as well as the logo and classic purple and gold color scheme.

Greg Milbrandt, the principal at Mountain View High School, said he will also incorporate the school’s classic “MV” logo with the horns of a Toro in the center of the field. He also aims to highlight the tradition left behind by former Mountain View football coach Jesse Parker.

Parker, who led the Toros to four state championships from 1976-94, died in 2017 at 77 years old. A year before his passing, the football field at Mountain View he helped build was named after him.

Milbrandt hopes to be able to incorporate Jesse Parker Field in the turf design.

“It’s exciting to christen it ‘Jesse Parker Field,’” Milbrandt said. “That’s one of the things we want to make sure we put on the field. That’s important to our community and it was established years ago with a tradition of excellence.”

Along with a new game field, the district is mulling options to install a regulation-sized turf practice field at Mountain View just behind the scoreboard to the west of the main stadium. The field will fill in the existing space currently occupied by a patch of grass and dirt near the main locker room facility.

Sitting on 300 acres of land, Mountain View’s campus is the smallest in the district and has little room to expand. With several sports teams and band practicing throughout the year, the natural grass typically available to teams quickly turns to dirt.

Milbrandt said if the school receives a new turf practice field, it will provide a safe environment for all sports teams to practice and potentially play on if needed.

“We are on a lot less acreage than the other high schools in the district,” Milbrandt said. “We just don’t have the space to service all of our teams and the band, especially when you get into the irrigation side of things.

“We want to make sure they have a space to practice on that is good for all of them.”

Both Milbrandt and Schnittger hope to begin construction on the fields sometime in May, preferably after graduation. Barring any delays in construction due to COVID-19 or other factors, the two hope to have the new turf fields in place by the start of the fall football season in August.

“Our goal is to have the field ready for the first game in the fall,” said Milbrandt, who has been at Mountain View for eight years. “That’s what we are hoping for. But I’m ecstatic. I love this community. I love this campus. All the excitement these changes bring, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.

“It’s not just for our kids here, it’s for the community. It’s exciting for them, too.”

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