School Board weighs options for upgrading athletic fields

Officials begin exploring ways to relocate, improve facilities used by GHS teams
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School Board is continuing to explore options for relocating and upgrading school district athletic fields, decisions which could include naming rights.

“It isn’t a baseball and softball discussion, it’s our long-range plan and vision,” Supt. Jeff Nelson said during the board’s Monday, June 25, meeting.

The varsity baseball and softball fields are at John Long Middle School and the two junior-varsity fields are at Grafton High School. During the meeting, project manager Mike Helmrick of Rettler Corp. — the firm assisting the district with the fields’ landscaping designs — outlined plans for moving and improving the fields.

The cost to relocate the varsity fields to the high school and add amenities, such as bleachers, is $2 million. Keeping the fields at their current location with improvements would cost about $750,000.

Plans could also include adding bullpens, fencing, and artificial turf for the infields.

“We are not in the option-picking phase right now, but we wanted to show the board a high-overview plan for our athletic facilities, along with various options and prices,” Nelson said.

“We wanted to showcase to the board a broad overview of what our facilities could look like in the future.” 

The board also discussed options for the high school’s football field and track.

According to Nelson, some of the options for the football field include artificial turf and expanding its width to make the field playable for soccer. Plans also include replacing the track, adding ticket booths, lighting, fencing, restrooms, concession stands and replacing the scoreboard, which total about $1.6 million.

The board is currently planning to generate funding for the projects through a public/private partnership group.

After the district’s 2016 referendum failed, athletic projects were taken out of consideration for a $39.9 school-facilities referendum approved by district residents in 2017.

“Through our public/private partnership group that we’re starting, we hope to begin raising funds for our athletic facilities that weren’t covered in the referendum,” Nelson said.

“We’ve had some preliminary discussions with various community groups, but nothing concrete has come out of that yet.”

According to Helmrick, the football field could have donor logos outside the players box along the sidelines.

Nelson said the administration will seek input from coaches and return to the board next month with a recommendation for a plan. The board is expected to make a decision no later than August in order to start the bidding process with contractors.

Nelson expects construction to begin next summer. 

“We wouldn’t do any construction until after the spring sports season is over,” he said.

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