SPEARFISH — In order to bring in more sporting events, Black Hills State University is in the midst of planning a $1.1 million upgrade to the Lyle Hare Stadium, the only official football field in town that could draw in teams from all over — including soccer and even ultimate Frisbee teams.
Plans call for an artificial turf field and the installation of a brand new electronic scoreboard. The overall project will begin next week with the installation of the turf field, and is scheduled to be complete by August.
This is the first phase of a $2.9 million renovation project, the second of which includes a $1.9 million upgrade to the Lyle Hare Stadium press box.
Jhett Albers, the director of the BHSU Athletics Department, said the new turf would provide a lot more flexibility because the current condition of the grass field can only take so much play, and with the turf they don’t need to worry about that and it’s a lot more safe for the players during game time.
“We have to make sure we are always keeping an eye on the condition of the field at this point,” said Albers. “Having a turf field will allow us to do those things without worrying about ripping up the field for the next group the next day, and the most important part is the safety aspect of this type of field.”
He added that the savings regarding consistent maintenance, such as mowing, is going to also be greatly reduced.
“The field will be able to handle more events throughout the year, and we need the sales tax revenue, and I think we need to support this,” he said.
Albers explained by saying by installing an artificial turf field, it will provide sustainability over time by not having to mow, paint, or water, as well as provide for the opportunity to increase usage and host additional events that will have a positive economic impact for the community of Spearfish.
And, the process to conduct these upgrades is set to begin. This week that BHSU has contracted with Geo-Surfaces for the installation of artificial turf for the Lyle Hare Stadium renovation project.
“The reason for selecting Geo-Surfaces was due to the quality of their product. Geo-Surfaces uses a shock pad mat system, which will provide a more stable and safe playing surface for those using the field,” he said. “We are excited to be able to move forward with this project this summer.”
To assist with funding the project, university officials approached the city of Spearfish. Because additional sporting events, and the potential increase of visitors it will bring into town, Albers said they requested the city allocate $100,000 toward the project. Their due to the fact that the city of Spearfish would benefit the most from the sales tax that would be generated from having events that draw in visitors.
After hearing the details of the upgrades, and much discussion on how this $100,000 the university requested — the council voted to only allocate $50,000.
Prior to the vote, Councilman Don Aaker said that the city should support the full allocation, because he believes the city and the university should nurture the partnership they have created the last couple of years, and because the improvements would allow the university to host more football games — rather than the 11 that are scheduled for 2013.
The artificial turf will have a lifespan of up to 12 years, as long as the surface is maintained. The total square footage of turf needed equals to approximately 70,000 and is approximately 40 percent of the total project cost.
Councilman Dave Baker opened the discussion to say that as a municipal government entity, he doesn’t believe they should be “bailing” out another governmental entity because they “should be able to live within their means.”
He argued that if the university couldn’t fully fund the project, they shouldn’t move forward with it at this time.
“But, if you came forward with this request during budget time, we could give it some consideration,” Baker said.
Councilman Doug Schmit said after hearing the details that he would be willing to consider between $25,000 and $50,000.
“It’s a wonderful project and I agree the city should take part in this, but I’m just not sure about the amount you are requesting,” Schmit said. “My concern is that sure it would bring in sales tax, but why put turf down if you have to replace it every 10 years or so.”
Eventually the city council voted to allocate $50,000 to the project.
“We want to partner with the city because we would love to share the facility, and we really want to see it used more,” Albers said. “In the end we are still a small community, and we should work toward sharing our success together … this field will improve the complex so much more, plus it’s the only official football field in Spearfish that is the right size to play official games on.”
Despite the argument, the council voted 5-1 to reduce the requested allocation by half, with Aaker voting against the motion.
BHSU officials also requested $100,000 from the Spearfish School District. The district uses Lyle Hare Stadium to host football games and track meets. The school board members are expected to discuss the request on Monday during their regular meeting.