Turf War Continues

Why does Neenah not have a turf field in Rocket Stadium?


Caden Scheibel, Student of Journalism

Rocket Stadium, home of the Neenah Rockets, turf experiences damage over time because of the natural grass deterioration and wear and tear.

Since its birth in the 1960s, artificial turf football fields have been taking place of grass all over the country — except in Neenah.

The Rockets are one of two high schools in Bay Valley Conference that still have grass in place. This has caused problems in the last couple of years. One of these problems includes not letting the 2017 Conference Champion Lacrosse team use the field in Rocket Stadium for their 2018 spring season.

So this bares the question: “Why doesn’t Neenah High School have a turf football field yet?”

Activities Director Josh Murnane seems to have the answers surrounding that straight-forward question.

One of the biggest and most controversial reasons for not having turf at Neenah is because the school’s superintendent, board, and business directors will not allow sponsorship logos to be on the field.

“The district has explored corporate sponsorships,” Murnane says “but the big thing is they don’t want the field to just be branded with a load of sponsorships.”

So without sponsorships, how much would a turf cost field?

“That’s a million dollar question. Literally. It’s about $1 million for a turf field,” Murnane said.

According to fieldturf.com, one square foot of turf costs $4.75. But when there are 80,000 square feet that need to be installed, it can get a little pricey. However that does not include all the new features like ventilation, folded vernations and paying the construction and landscaping companies which have a great factor on how much the turf will cost.

Teams such as track and field, lacrosse, football and even baseball have booster clubs in place to try to raise some sort of money to lower the cost of the field.

Many opinions, comments and concerns have circulated within the northeastern Wisconsin area. Speculations includes:  because of the grasses bumpy terrain, someone could get a sprained ankle on the field or worse.

Additionally, public cries against turf center on effecting athletes’ health. In a recent article in The Washington Post, the author gives information on the materials that go into the turf and what illnesses they can cause. Such illnesses include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“MRSA is a dangerous infection because it is resistant to many antibiotics. It can lead to pneumonia, sepsis and bloodstream infections that can prove fatal. An MRSA infection can happen after skin is scraped or cut, which can occur from sliding on artificial turf,” Dr. Stuart Shalat, from Georgia State, said. 

The big picture according to Activities Director Murnane is simple.

If you’re a turf person, you’re a turf person. If you don’t want turf, you don’t want turf. It all depends on what want or what you’re selling. Many groups want to go in the direction of turf. However, it is a slow process without a big donor,” he said.

It seems that all the Rockets can do right now is sit and wait. It all comes down to how much the the school board wants it in terms of both utility and its price tag.

At the moment, they seem to be in no rush at all.