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Brewington: Turf fields would be a great addition

Our new sports editor, John Howard, wrote a story this week about the possibility of building an artificial turf playing field in St. Helens.

The subject was broached this past week by St. Helens Lady Lions’ soccer coach Simon Date. His original idea was to raise enough funds to build a turf field on the location of the current jayvee field. That unlit field is located on the west side of the baseball field at the high school.

John BrewingtonThe St. Helens Sports Boosters have a turf field on their plans, but it’s at least a couple of years down the road. The biggest hang-up is the cost, somewhere under a million dollars for the turf and its installation.

The Boosters are interested in turning the football field into a turf field, but it would also double as a soccer field.

Why the need? First, the “football” field. It can get a lot of use and while the field is currently better than it’s been in a long time, it can mud up pretty quickly when the wet weather hits. There can be two football games a week on the field, and two soccer matches. Sometimes there are more events, but it’s usually busy on at least four of the five school nights. Sometimes a jayvee or freshman game will precede a soccer match.

While the jayvee field for a soccer facility was an interesting idea, that field does not have lights and it would be tough to play jayvee and varsity matches on the same day, unless the jayvees go to the football field. A multi-use field already lit would fit best into plans.

For football, just three of the schools in the league are on grass, while the other five have turf fields—Sherwood, Putnam, Liberty, Wilsonville, and Sandy. St. Helens, Parkrose, and Milwaukie do not.

I’m not sure about how many turf soccer fields there are in the league, save I know that Liberty and Sandy have fields. Others may also use their varsity turf fields.

A turf field would be a good thing for soccer and football, but I’m not sure it should stop there. It would be nice to see softball and baseball included.

For softball, five of the league schools either have turf or access to nearby turf—Sandy, Wilsonville, Putnam, Liberty, and Milwaukie. Sherwood, Parkrose and St. Helens are on natural grass fields.

All the coaches would love to see it.

For soccer, we can remember matches last season where it was more like a slip and slide than a match. Players were wet, muddy, and miserable.

From my standpoint, it can make for great pictures, but it’s not a really good indicator of the competition.

Scappoose has some of the same issues. They do have a new dedicated soccer field, but it’s not turf and it requires maintenance. Scappoose had to make a decision last year in the playoffs about whether to play at home or move their game to a turf field—probably Hillsboro Stadium. They chose to stay at home. I wouldn’t say it was a decisive factor in their loss to Baker, but turf can make a team like Scappoose even faster.

The Cowapa League has two schools with turf, Seaside and Tillamook. Both also double as soccer fields. Those are two areas where turf is really needed. Astoria, Banks, Yamhill-Carlton, and Scappoose do not have turf.

Whether the boosters at both schools, with some help from other sources, can raise enough money to put in turf is a question. Both booster groups have raised a considerable amount of funds over the years for new facilities and improvements to old ones.

St. Helens was able to do it for their covered stadium with new field lighting. Given their past efforts, I have to think it’s possible they could do it again.

It’s a major capital improvement, but would be a great addition for the teams and the community.