Nordonia schools hit pavement for new turf

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Rob Eckenrode, athletic director at Nordonia High School shows how the turf, that had a use expectancy of 8 years, has worn thin after years of use at the William Boliantz stadium. The school district is asking for donations to replace the turf which is 11 years old.

NORTHFIELD CENTER – Officials with the Nordonia Hills school district on Tuesday officially launched its fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase new turf for the William Boliantz stadium.

Rob Eckenrode, the district’s athletic director, said the turf installed there now is original to the stadium, which was finished in 2010. The turf, installed by FieldTurf, had an eight-year warranty. Eckenrode said a committee of about 10 people visited several sports facilities in Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania to explore turf options.

“We got back together and decided we would stick with the FieldTurf product,” Eckenrode said. “Their new product now has a 10-year warranty.”

Eckenrode said the stadium has benefited both the schools and the community, and that the school’s maintenance staff has managed to extend the life of the turf surface to 11 years – but the time has come to replace it.

“We’ve had plenty of use on it,” Eckenrode said. “We’ve had 725 Nordonia high school and middle school games on that field over 11 years. The band, soccer team, football, track, they make use of that field daily. When the weather is nice, the school has physical education classes out there.”

The stadium also is used for numerous community events, such as Youth Soccer and Macedonia Recreation Center’s special events like 5K runs.

“It’s been such a positive facility for the entire community,” he said. “We need to upgrade the turf by replacing it so it remains a fantastic facility.”

Synthetic turf typically has 2-3 inches of “pile,” along with a fill of ground rubber and sand underneath, Eckenrode said.

“As we continue to use it, the pile will wear out, like carpeting,” he said. “That pile shrinks over the years, the top disintegrates over time. Fans have noticed the field has become darker over time as the rubber underneath becomes more visible.”

Superintendent Joe Clark said the approximate cost to replace the turf is $375,000. Around $60,000 already has been saved toward the replacement through stadium rental fees. He added that while the district hopes it can raise what it needs through donations, the replacement project will go forward, with an anticipated completion this summer. The district will use general fund money from the school budget if need be.

“We want to do what we can to raise private funds,” Clark said. “We want to be as frugal as we can. But it needs to happen, it’s a safety issue. It’s not a surprise, it’s not out of the ordinary. The reality is having turf, we can use it a thousand times more than grass, and maintenance is lower. They hear $375,000, they may say that’s a lot but spread that over 10 years. You don’t need to mow. If we had a grass field, we’d be able to have football and soccer, that would be it.”

Both corporate and individual donors are sought, and there are different levels each can donate, Eckenrode said. Gifts and recognition will be given at the different levels.

Call the athletic department at 330-908-6000 or visit nordoniaathletics.org for details.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com

Rob Eckenrode, athletic director at Nordonia High School,  holds rubber debris from the turf at the William Boliantz stadium. The school district is asking for donations to replace the turf.
Rob Eckenrode, athletic director at Nordonia High School, points out how the the turf at the high school's stadium is starting to separate after 11 years of wear and tear.
Rob Eckenrode, athletic director at Nordonia High School, talks about the condition of the turf. The district is looking to replace the stadium's artificial turf, which was installed when the new stadium was finished in 2010. The warranty was for eight years.