McKenzie Stadium to get FieldTurf

New playing surface will be installed this summer

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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McKenzie is getting a makeover.

Evergreen Public Schools has announced that McKenzie Stadium will get a state-of-the-art playing surface this summer, in place in time for football season in the fall. The track around the field will be redone, as well.

Installation is set to begin in June, when workers take out the old AstroTurf to prepare for FieldTurf. The stadium is home to the four high schools that make up the district: Evergreen, Heritage, Mountain View, and Union.

“The superintendent and the school board agreed this is something they wanted to do,” said Steve Getsinger, director of school services for Evergreen Public Schools. “They just feel it’s the appropriate time.”

It is believed that McKenzie Stadium was the last big-school football stadium in the state to have the old “rug.” The current surface was installed in 1999.

Last fall, a series of injuries ranging from dislocated elbows to a dislocated hip and a broken leg left some to wonder if the surface was dangerous.

Getsinger said there was nothing more than anecdotal evidence, but no proof, that the field was unsafe.

“The WIAA certified McKenzie each and every year, including last year, for playoffs,” Getsinger said. “It was a safe facility.”

The cost for the new field, along with a maintenance contract, will be a little more than $400,000, Getsinger said. He was not sure of the guarantee, but he was hopeful that the new field would last at least 10 years.

When Kiggins Bowl changed to FieldTurf in 2008, Vancouver Public Schools was guaranteed eight years, but district officials believe it will last much longer.

According to Getsinger, money for McKenzie will come from the Qualified Schools Construction Bond, part of the federal government’s stimulus package. That bond also is helping to pay for the district’s Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School, set to open in the fall of 2013.

The recent Evergreen Public Schools levy passed by voters had nothing to do with the stadium project.

“Levy monies cannot be used for this. They can’t be connected at all,” Getsinger said.

Getsinger also said that none of the stadium money could have been used to offset any of the district’s budget reductions incurred over the last couple of years.

McKenzie Stadium is the largest stadium in Clark County, with a capacity for close to 6,000 in the stands, with covered seating on both sides of the field. It also has plenty of parking and several entry and exit points for easy access.

“The quality of the turf will now match the overall quality of the venue,” Getsinger said. “It’s a great place to watch a football game or soccer.”