Workers this week are installing artificial turf in the new Altoona High School sports complex — a project that school officials say is slightly ahead of schedule.
The $3.2 million athletic complex project is on track to be completed before the Altoona Railroaders’ first home game on Aug. 30, when they’re set to play the Cadott Hornets, said district business manager Mike Markgren.
Installing the artificial turf is a painstaking process — workers lay it out in five-yard pieces, sew the sections together by hand then cut out the numbers and letters.
The new turf has safety and durability features that Markgren anticipates will help athletes.
The filament turf is “better for the longevity of the field itself … it’s a kind of combination turf. It’s actually better for ball play (like) soccer, but it’ll have the durability for football,” Markgren said.
The turf also has a thatch layer, which helps with cleat release: “So we should reduce ankle injuries,” Markgren said.
A shock pad, installed underneath the turf, is aimed at preventing concussions.
As for the new eight-lane track, which will add nine sprint lanes, its second pour of asphalt must cure for 30 days. Crews will then add a final, rubberized coat. The track is aimed to be completed at the end of August, Markgren said.
Spring and early summer temperatures have been ideal for construction, said Altoona football coach Chad Hanson.
Though June brought rain, the water drained from the field quickly, so construction could continue quickly, Markgren said.
The public can track construction through “construction cams” on the district’s website. The district has aimed two of its school cameras at the field, which have new images every 10 seconds.
The district and Market & Johnson also fly drones over the field about once a week. The footage is posted on the district’s social media, Markgren said.
“I’m in awe at the commitment by the school and the community to put this all together for the kids, whether it’s for football, soccer teams, track in the spring or physical education classes,” Hanson said.
The district had to raise the first $1 million before starting on the complex so the project wouldn’t raise property taxes, Markgren said.
The district hit that mark in February; construction began in April.
The project will expand the football field to include a regulation-size soccer field, update the press box and add synthetic turf, a scoreboard, a new track, concessions space, restrooms, storage and an entrance plaza and ticket area.
The project will also add a “home” grandstand for 1,173 people, seating for up to 500 “away” fans and high jump, pole vault, long/triple jump, shot put and discus facilities.
Community contributors include CCF Bank with $250,000; Altoona Athletic Booster Club with $50,000; OakLeaf Surgical Hospital with a $500,000 donation, which allowed them naming rights to the OakLeaf Stadium; Prevea Health with a $75,000 donation; and Market & Johnson with a $75,000 in-kind donation.