The old grass is being torn out and the new artificial turf is going in at Jupiter High School’s football field.
Work on the $770,000 job started last week. After the old turf is removed, filtration systems installed, a rock base compacted, 15-foot-wide strips of fake grass sewn together, game stripings painted and new goal posts sunk in the ground, the new field is expected to open Sept. 3.
“Football, soccer, track, lacrosse. All these sports can be played on the new field. Now, we’ll be able to use the field every day instead of having to fix it up after every game,” said Ernie Cox, president of Jupiter High School Athletic Boosters, the group that collected about $375,000 in donations for the 2,800-student school on Military Trail.
Jupiter is paying for the rest, about $390,000.
The Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association and Jupiter Christian School also plan to use the field. JTAA, which enrolls about 7,500 children between kindergarten and high school, is allowed to use the field for free because it is a town organization. Jupiter Christian is paying $50,000, plus operating costs, to use the field for its Friday night varsity football games for five years.
Installing new natural grass on the 78,000-square-foot field would cost about $75,000. The grass has been replaced three times in the past decade. The reduction in maintenance — artificial turf lasts about a dozen years and does not have to be watered or mowed — makes the investment worthwhile, Cox said.
Former Warriors football coach Charlie Persson, who retired in 2011 after 30 years, said the new turf will force players to make adjustments.
“The first time we played at Boca Raton,” said Persson, referring to the only other public school field with artificial turf, “my players found it tougher to cut and change speed and direction.”
Lousaka Polite, a former National Football League player who was coaching at the Dolphins Academy being held next to the field, said players must wear shoes with shorter cleats on artificial turf.
“Younger players will find it easier to adjust. They only weigh about 130 pounds. It’s a tougher adjustment for a player at the professional level,” said Polite, a 250-pound former fullback, who played on both grass and artificial turf with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.
The new field will be called Velocity Community Credit Union Stadium for five years. The naming is in return for the Palm Beach Gardens-based company’s $100,000 donation, Cox said. The general contractor for the job is Pittsburgh-based ProGrass.
Additional fields for youth sports are badly needed, Cox said. He noted a July 13 story in The Palm Beach Post that the increasing number of Palm Beach Gardens youth sports programs are wearing down the playing fields. Palm Beach Gardens is considering boosting participation fees to cover maintenance costs.
“On regular grass, you can’t play every day. On artificial turf, you can,” Cox said.