An artist's rendering of what the new turf field will look like at McNary High School. Work on the field is expected to get going on June 1, with turf installation starting in July and project completion in August. (Submitted)

An artist’s rendering of what the new turf field will look like at McNary High School. Work on the field is expected to get going on June 1, with turf installation starting in July and project completion in August. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Think of it as an 80,000 square foot carpeting job.

That’s what’s in the works for a new artificial turf field at McNary High School. The project, which got underway in earnest last year, is expected to begin work June 1, said Bill McNutt, project manager.

“Our goal is to begin moving dirt then,” McNutt said. “The grass field will be taken off and taken to a field owned by Bob Zielinski. School will still be in session so, in the early days, we’ll start after the first bell and wrap up before the end of the school day.”

McNutt spearheaded the installation of the Salem-Keizer School District’s first turf field at Sprague High School in 2007. He also consulted on the West Salem High School turf project in 2012.

Initial preparation is expected to take about a month and entails removing the existing field and laying the groundwork – rock, concrete and drainage – for the new turf. The FieldTurf product being used is the same as all the other high schools in Salem-Keizer as well as Autzen and Reser Stadiums.

Actual turf installation is expected to begin in July with the goal of having the project completed by McNary’s Blue Day, the third Saturday in August. Georgia-based FieldTurf, which has a Wilsonville office, will handle the installation. McNutt said the McNary Athletic Booster Club’s goal of $500,000 in cash and $500,000 in in-kind donations are nearing the finish line.

To date, the group has about  $340,000 in pledged donations, some of which includes on-field advertising.

“We have a local health care business, tire business, local real estate and local financial representative who will have logos on the home team’s side of the field,” McNutt said.

While the side of the field nearest the grandstand is sold out, there are six logo spots still available on the visiting side of the field for $15,000. That price covers the logo for the expected life of the field, about 10 years. Organizers are also being mindful of the type of logos that will appear on the field. No alcohol, tobacco or firearms companies would be allowed.

McNutt said cash donations have arrived in amounts as small as $10 and as much as $100,000.

The turf itself will feature alternating light and dark green segments every five yards. A large McNary “M” will be placed in the center and the end zones will be blue with “McNary” and “Celtics” in white.

In addition to lines for football, the field surface will include lines for boys and girls lacrosse. While that portion of the project was uncertain in planning stages, it is now a certainty.

“It gives that those teams an opportunity to play at home, and we need the lacrosse community’s support as well,” McNutt said. Lacrosse is still a club sport at the school, but the boys team has had only one home game in four years due to the constraints of the grass field.

McNutt said the usage of the field will likely skyrocket upon completion. Whereas a natural grass might only sustain 160 uses a year, an artificial turf field could be used 10 times as often. Most importantly, it gives the school itself more opportunities for outdoor activities in physical education and other classes.

“In sports at Sprague, we’ve also seen it cut down on the number of knee injuries and concussions due to the soft surface,” McNutt said.

The school district now possesses equipment for turf field upkeep, which should help avoid the rapid aging that West Salem’s field experienced.

As the start date nears, there are still some outstanding needs. Organizers still need about $150,000 in cash as well as in-kind donations of rock and concrete work, drainage work and drainage pipe, trucking for removal of the existing field and fuel for those vehicles.

McNutt said a gofundme.com account is being worked on for accepting financial donations online.

For financial donations, contact Ted Anagnos at tedanagnos@comcast.net or Ron Richards, McNary athletic director, at 503-399-3238 or richards_ron@salkeiz.k12.or.us. Contact McNutt at bmfamins@comcast.net to discuss in-kind donations.