The Mexico Board of Education started discussing in March where to place a regulation soccer field. The board eventually settled on constructing the field at Mexico Middle School, including seeking bids for construction costs last month. Public support has since shifted to placing the field at the completed athletic complex at Mexico High School.
“There is some groundswell of support for doing it at the high school,” board President Dustin Pascoe said.
It would overall be less expensive to create a fenced regulation field at the middle school, Pascoe said. The push for a field at the high school, while more expensive, could lead to other improvements in conjunction with soccer field construction, he said.
“If this is a good cost, and there is such a thing, then we should embrace thinking big,” Pascoe said.
The middle school has fewer opportunities for concessions, parking and restroom access. New restrooms also would have to tie into sewer lines at West Boulevard Street.
“It isn’t a huge cost, but it’s not that convenient,” Superintendent Zach Templeton said.
Excavation costs make up the largest price difference between the middle and high school. The planned location for the soccer field at the high school is south of the baseball field and west of the football field. There would have to be a tiered field system so there still could be a practice football field if grass fields are maintained.
Templeton met with Activities Director Travis Blevins, high school Principal Brad Ellebracht, Maintenance and Operations Director Curt Jackson and the soccer coaches to discuss how the field should be constructed.
“It’s probably long-term cheaper to do it at the high school,” Templeton said.
The group also considered whether to install turf or grass in the field. If the board wants to install turf in the soccer field, it should consider turfing the football and baseball fields as well, Templeton said.
“If (the board) wants all those things, then we should have all those things,” Templeton said.
A turf field would require less maintenance and could be used for both practice and play, so it reduces the area needed for fields, he said. If the district sticks with grass, soccer teams would still have to practice at the middle school.
Board Vice President Heather DeMint is in support of a turfed football field, but also wanted to gauge what support there would be for a turfed soccer field. A turfed soccer field may potentially cause more injuries, Pascoe said.
Due to current soccer field conditions, the potential for injury is about the same as a turf field, said women’s soccer coach Haley Schafer. She also supports a turfed field because at least three-quarters of the team’s away games are played on turf fields, she said.
The board is considering turf for the baseball infield, because rainfall on the existing dirt infield often causes games to be postponed or canceled.
It would cost upward of $2-2.5 million to turf the football, soccer and baseball infield, Templeton estimated. Turfing all three would be a large, but one-time expense, Pascoe said.
The district is estimated to have its financial reserves at 38% and its 2020 budget includes an estimated surplus.
The district’s capital improvement fund cannot contribute more than $1 million at one time, so a portion of the cost would need to be financed and paid off over five years. However, if the field construction costs are financed without an early payment fee, the fields could be paid for within two years.
The board approved a motion for the district to research leasing options for moving a soccer field to the high school with turf, and turfing the football field and baseball infield. Throwing events, such as discuss and shot put may be moved if the board moves forward with soccer field construction at the high school. The board discussed relocating the events to the northeast corner of land next to the football field. No decision was made in that discussion.