Washougal schools again considering replacing aging surface at stadium

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The Washougal School District is expected to revisit the oft-discussed topic of Fishback Stadium’s aging artificial turf during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The nearly nine-year-old turf failed two portions of a Portland-based firm’s “playing surface impact test” last year. But school district officials and coaches say the field has been repaired and offers no significant injury threats to players.

Still, the field needs to be replaced in the next year or two due to the effects of age, use and weather, said Doug Bright, the school district’s human resources director. A new turf is expected to cost more than $400,000.

Bright is expected to speak at Tuesday’s meeting about companies that sell sports field turf, how much it would cost and potential ways to pay for it. It is unknown whether the school district will take any action. Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at 4855 Evergreen Way.

“It is a tough decision for the board,” Bright said. “They know we’re getting close to this field needing to be replaced.”

The Washougal School District recently hired FieldTurf to patch minor problem areas on the field at a cost of $800. Coaches and the school’s athletic trainer have declared it sound.

“The surface is not in the type of shape where we would have to close it down,” Bright said. The district needs to make a decision either this summer or next summer, he added, because the turf is “at the end of its life.”

Boys soccer coach John Tyger praised Fishback Stadium’s turf for limiting leg and knee injuries associated with moving and twisting, he said. The majority of the team’s injuries come from contact.

“It’s not horrible by any stretch of the imagination,” Tyger said of the field. “There are a lot of areas of wear and tear. It’s just like a roof. You can maintain it, but at some point you’ve got to give it up.”

The school district has options to pay for the field, Bright said. One would entail the school district contracting with a sponsor that places its logo on the field. Another company would erect a reader board that flashes ads throughout games. School districts across the country are being faced with similar decisions on paying for athletic fields, Bright said.

The school district is talking with industry leaders Sportexe, FieldTurf and AstroTurf about replacing the turf, Bright added.