Mishawaka school board seeking donations to make home turf for Steele stadium synthetic

It's a play Mishawaka High School has been working on for the past five years--a goal to bring the Cavemen into the future of football.

"Within five years, everybody we're going to be playing is going to be having field turf," said Bart Curtis, football coach for Mishawaka High School.

Wednesday, the Mishawaka Board of School Trustees took the first step at a special meeting Wednesday during an alumni luncheon at the Fraternal Order of Police building in Mishawaka. They approved a motion to ask the public for donations to replace Steele Stadium's natural grass with synthetic turf--a strategy intended to reduce injuries on the field.

"There are fewer concussions when players play on artificial turf," said Terry Barker, superintendent of the School City of Mishawaka. "I think the number one thing is the safety factor-- [for] kids, the surface is always the same."

The coach said he believes the change will improve the team's game throughout the year.

"There's less slipping and sliding, and I think your grip is a little better and I think the kids just step quicker on it," said Curtis. "It doesn't matter what the weather is like, you're going to have a great football practice."

It's a game plan school officials say will pay off in the long run.

"When you consider the maintenance that has to be done to grass, the fertilizing, the watering--all of those things that really have to be done almost year-round--the additional cost of artificial surf really is kind of negated," said Barker. "We want to make multiple returns to the state championship, and we think we can do it with this."

The school hopes to resurface the field, track and practice field next to the stadium. The project will cost an estimated $2.2 million.

The school board is just at the start of the process of collecting donations. Two trustees donated a thousand dollars each of their own money to the cause at Wednesday's meeting.

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