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West Fargo school district, booster clubs in preliminary talks for artificial turf fields

WEST FARGO-The West Fargo School Board will consider approval of artificial turf for the two high school football fields at West Fargo High School and West Fargo Sheyenne High School worth an estimated $2.7 million.According to a school board mem...

The booster clubs from West Fargo High School and West Fargo Sheyenne High School could be joining forces to raise money to install artificial turf on the schools' two football fields. David Samson / The Forum
The booster clubs from West Fargo High School and West Fargo Sheyenne High School could be joining forces to raise money to install artificial turf on the schools' two football fields. David Samson / The Forum

WEST FARGO-The West Fargo School Board will consider approval of artificial turf for the two high school football fields at West Fargo High School and West Fargo Sheyenne High School worth an estimated $2.7 million.

According to a school board memo, the West Fargo Packer Backers booster club and the Sheyenne booster club began meeting with the school district to consider a joint capital campaign, which Sheyenne booster club co-president Darrin Galde said has been happening for about two months.

MBN Engineering estimated a cost of $1.21 million for low-grade turf to $1.35 million for high-grade turf at West Fargo and $1.22 million for low-grade turf to $1.36 million for high-grade turf at Sheyenne with engineering and contingency included.

In the memo, the recommendation is to approve the project where the school district would pay for one third of the funds-which would be $904,800-and the engineering and design fees which would bring the final school district cost to $1.023 million. The booster clubs would raise the other two thirds of the funds.

West Fargo activities director Jay DeCann and West Fargo Sheyenne activities director Ross Richards both declined to comment as both said talks are preliminary and a turf field is still far from being planned let alone installed. A call for West Fargo Packer Backer president Patrick Walker was not immediately returned.

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Galde made it clear that talks are still only preliminary from his point of view as well, but he hopes new turfs are playable by the fall of 2018. The school board will consider the proposal at its meeting on Monday, July 24.

The school board memo said the turf would make the fields more durable to avoid damage due to weather, would make the fields more usable for more contests and would make the spaces versatile for football, soccer and other spring sports. Fargo Shanley and Moorhead High Schools have artificial turf fields in the metro area among several other schools in North Dakota.

"You just can't get outside early enough," Galde said. "We need green space that's not frozen."

The booster clubs, according to the memo, would have to agree to equal contributions or joint asks for corporate sponsorships and make sure fundraisers and donors would know it's a joint effort. No turf would be bought if funds aren't raised for both schools and a committee from each club would be formed to oversee the fundraising.

The school district's planning and development committee, which supports the project, recommended if naming rights were to be sold for one of the fields that the donor give 25 percent of the project cost. Galde said naming rights would be decided by the school district.

"Honestly, it's a joint effort that's going to benefit both schools," Galde said. "We and the school district, we want to improve the facilities on both campuses."

Sheyenne, which will be going into its fourth varsity football season, second boys soccer varsity season and third girls soccer varsity season next school year, couldn't install this type of turf right away because the costs proved too much for one time during the stadium's construction, Galde said.

New turf would allow the school's soccer teams to play on their own campus, Galde said, rather than both teams sharing the Lodoen Center soccer field. Playing on their own campuses, Galde said, would likely improve participation by student-athletes as well as fan turnout because of the proximity to the school.

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Galde added that new turf would benefit the spring sports like baseball, softball and track and field because baseball and softball could start practicing out in that grass sooner coming out of winter instead of practicing inside longer waiting for ground to thaw. Track and field teams would also have better surface to practice and warm-up on.

Galde said the key will be finding dollars in the community and isn't opposed to seeking more funds from current boosters or reaching out to other possible community businesses and boosters. He's confident the money goal currently is obtainable.

"Having a joint effort, we're one community in the district," Galde said of Sheyenne and West Fargo. "It's something I think the community can get behind."

The booster clubs from West Fargo High School and West Fargo Sheyenne High School could be joining forces to raise money to install artificial turf on the schools' two football fields. David Samson / The Forum
The booster clubs at West Fargo Sheyenne High School, pictured, and West Fargo High School are in preliminary planning stages to raise money to install artificial turf. David Samson / The Forum

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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