Knoch considering replacing grass with turf at stadium
By: Doug Gulasy
Sunday, May 12, 2019 | 4:42 PM
Mother Nature rained plenty on Knoch’s parade last fall. More significantly, on its football and soccer games, too.
As one of a small number of schools in the WPIAL’s highest classifications with a grass field, the extra moisture caused problems the district is looking into addressing.
The South Butler School District is investigating the potential for turf at Knoch Knight Stadium, with athletic director Kurt Reiser presenting the school board some of his research at a meeting last month.
The stadium hosts soccer, football and lacrosse games.
“We started probably back in November or so and had brought it to the school board’s attention,” Reiser said. “This past fall was an exceptionally wet fall, and we had some problems with our natural grass fields on campus — not just our stadium but some of the other fields we have on campus.
“We started to discuss possibly adding turf to the high school stadium field and gather what it would entail cost-wise, financially.”
Reiser said while the district is “receptive to the idea,” it is taking its time because of the financial commitment required. It’s still early in the process, and if the district would go forward with it, the earliest the turf would be installed would be for fall 2020.
As part of his research, Reiser spoke to several turf installation companies, as well as area schools that have turf fields. He said costs ranged from $750,000 to $1.2 million for turf installation. In addition to the field, there’s a large area of natural grass inside the track.
“It’s a significant financial investment and certainly not one that should be taken lightly,” Reiser said. “And they’re not taking it lightly.”
After the “large initial investment” of the turf field, however, Reiser believes maintenance costs over the life of the surface would be limited compared to the school’s current natural grass.
The amount of teams that can use the stadium also would increase, Reiser said. The same would go for nonathletes and gym classes.
“We’re limited right now with the number of our games we can play in our stadium because we have natural grass,” Reiser said. “We have to try to maintain the natural grass so that it’s a good playing surface, a safe playing surface for the kids in those sports. If we put turf down, the options become unlimited.”
Should Knoch install turf, it would join Freeport and Kiski Area as Alle-Kiski Valley schools to make the change in recent years. Those were among the schools Reiser spoke to.
Knoch is the only Class 4A football school with a grass field.
“I’m partial for (turf) because hopefully there’d be an opportunity for us to practice on it if we’re going to play on it,” Knoch football coach Brandon Mowry said. “But at the same time, there’s something to be said for coming to Saxonburg and nobody (else) plays on grass and you get a sloppy, wet, rainy night. Our kids kind of thrive in that. I think it’d be good to have, but at the same time, I’m a little bit nostalgic.
“It’ll probably happen at some point. I just don’t know when.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .