Original Source: whig.com
By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Installation began Thursday morning on the new artificial turf playing surface at Flinn Stadium.
Materials for the project arrived at the stadium Tuesday, and the installation crew came to Quincy Wednesday from St. Louis to make final preparations to put the material into place.
The work is expected to be completed before the football season begins this fall.
Dennis Peters, director of maintenance for the Quincy School District, said a series of renovations to the underground portion of the field got under way in June and moved along at a good pace, finishing about 10 days ahead of schedule. This set the stage for the installation of the new playing surface.
The Quincy School Board approved the $772,460 field renovation project in early June. At that time, the board voted 4-2 to spend $377,800 in life-safety funds for the underground repairs. On top of that, $394,660 in donated funds will be used to install the artificial turf playing surface instead of natural grass.
The underground work involved addressing some issues related to drainage problems, including the shifting of some sub-surface electrical wires.
Superintendent Lonny Lemon told the School Board last week that while deconstructing the old grass field, the work crew found some “surprises” under the surface.
“They found it had virtually twice the amount of sand that they had thought it was going to have, which complicated matters and probably also led to some of the problems we’ve been experiencing in the last 15 years or so,” Lemon said.
“And there was actually an electrical box of wiring that they hit eight inches below the surface of the playing field — right at dead center of the field,” he added. “That was a scare that day for that fellow. Fortunately, the power was off.”
Peters said the electrical box contained wires leading to the scoreboard. Other scoreboard wires were only 10 inches below the surface, posing a potential safety concern.
“Anytime you have something electrical buried that’s not three feet down — or at least 30 inches or so — it’s always a concern,” Peters said.
Peters said all wires were relocated as needed to improve safety, including the electrical wires used to power the field’s lights. The electric wires were encased in conduit and buried deep in the ground to help protect them in the future from possible abrasions and to guard against potential safety concerns.
Putting the wires in conduit also makes for easier future maintenance, Peters said.
“That way, if we have a problem with our wiring some day, we can pull it back out and rerun it. We can take care of our problems if we have any.” He said the work crew also installed new drainage tiles underground to help improve water runoff from the field.
Peters said the large amount of sand found under the old field required some extra stabilization work as the repair crew prepared the ground for the new playing surface.
“They had to add a little concrete mix with it to firm up the ground up before they laid the rock,” he said.
The rocks were then rolled evenly to provide a smooth bed for the artificial turf.
Quincy University has pledged $75,000 toward the cost of installing the artificial turf. QU made this offer in exchange for being allowed to play its home football games at Flinn Stadium.
QU’s athletic director, Marty Bell, told The Herald-Whig the team intends to start using the field this fall and will keep using it for at least three years but possibly longer through a 10-year lease arrangement being worked out with the district.
Representatives of booster groups that support the field renovations raised another $50,000 in pledges for the project. That left $269,660 still to be raised for the installation of artificial turf. However, George Crickard, president of the Quincy Public Schools Foundation, told the School Board in June the foundation is committing itself to providing that amount in funds still to be raised from supporters.
The School Board last month awarded a $377,800 contract to Byrne & Jones Sports to carry out the underground repairs. The $394,660 contract for the turf installation was awarded to Field Turf of St. Louis, which will install a state-of-the-art synthetic field with an anticipated life expectancy of 12 years.
The district expects to save money each year by not having to maintain a grass field. Those savings are projected to amount to about $192,000 over the life of the field.