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Published: Wednesday, 12/6/2006

Weather-damaged football field will get a new surface

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
All that remains where a football field stood is a flattened mix of clay and sand. Maumee Bay Athletic Field Systems will soon level the surface, reseed it, and maintain it with fertilizers in the hope a new surface will be ready for action next fall.
All that remains where a football field stood is a flattened mix of clay and sand. Maumee Bay Athletic Field Systems will soon level the surface, reseed it, and maintain it with fertilizers in the hope a new surface will be ready for action next fall.
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Anyone passing Perrysburg's Steinecker Stadium while traveling on I-75 might look and wonder what happened to the football field.

October 27 happened.

That night, the Perrysburg Yellow Jackets lost the 2006 regular season finale 13-6 to Sylvania Southview in a game better suited to be played inside Noah's Ark.

A driving rain had persisted in the area for two days, causing the playing conditions to resemble a 100-yard mud wrestling pit. By the time the two teams left the field that night, the only grass not completely swallowed by the soupy dirt was in the end zones.

Perrysburg Athletic Director Ray Pohlman said the decision was made to pulverize the field between the two goal lines, rather than try to repair or resod portions of the playing surface.

Mr. Pohlman said the project could cost between $10,000 and $14,000 to complete. Perrysburg Schools business manager Richard Jones said the district will contribute $5,000 to the project, while the athletic department will be responsible for the rest.

All that remains where a football field stood is a flattened mix of clay and sand. Maumee Bay Athletic Field Systems will soon level the surface, reseed it, and maintain it with fertilizers in the hope a new surface will be ready for action next fall.

"Anytime the players tried to cut or plant their feet [against Southview], they clumped up the grass and essentially took the crown off the field," Mr. Pohlman said.

"It was a mess. Since an entire game was played in weather like that, the field was beyond being fixed."

The playing surface at Steinecker Stadium is used by Perrysburg High's varsity and junior varsity football, boys soccer, and girls soccer teams, as well as the junior high's football team.

With so many games played there each year, a fall season with large amounts of rain such as this one puts further stress on the grass field.

Mr. Pohlman said he hopes to take that stress away by one day installing the synthetic turf, or FieldTurf, used by so many professional and collegiate athletic facilities.

The athletic director's goal is to raise the money to install FieldTurf - approximately $650,000 - entirely through donations. He hopes to have the turf in place in the next two to three years.

Mr. Pohlman said a synthetic playing surface would enable more area teams to use Steinecker Stadium without worry of damage to an all-natural field caused by overuse.

"We've had to move games or cancel games in the past because of the field's condition," Mr. Pohlman said. "People say that's not fair because they're taxpayers and they should be able to use the field too, and they're right. With the [synthetic] turf, everybody can use it."

For now, Mr. Pohlman has to protect the stadium's expensive, soon-to-be-planted natural grass, even if it means postponing a varsity football game on Friday night.

Perrysburg football coach Matt Kregel said the rain and mud were so disruptive against Southview that his quarterback couldn't take a snap from under center and hand the ball off to a running back without dropping it.

Mr. Pohlman said if a home game is scheduled next season on a night when rain has already created dire field conditions, that game may be played another day.

"The idea is that unless there's lightning, you play the game on Friday night, no matter what," Mr. Pohlman said. "I think that idea went out the window for a lot of schools this fall."



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