Work on Urbana athletic fields to start this month

Work on Urbana athletic fields to start this month

URBANA – Demolition work is scheduled to begin later this month at Urbana High School's football stadium, the first step in renovating its athletic fields into a state-of-the-art complex.

The $4.27 million project is part of $17.5 million in facilities improvements approved earlier this fall, to be paid for with the 1-cent school facility sales tax. The Urbana school board is to vote on a $32,900 bid for the demolition phase of the work when it meets Tuesday.

Demolition is scheduled to begin Dec. 17, said facilities director Ota Dossett. It will include taking out the bleachers, concession stand, storage building, and all the field lighting, electrical panels and mechanical systems.

The renovation of the academic/athletic complex will include a new track and new synthetic turf for the football and soccer fields.

"It really addresses the use of the space," Dossett said of the new turf. "PE (classes) can be on it, the band can be on it, and immediately after, (the) football (team) can be on it."

The natural turf gets too torn up from other activities to allow multiple uses during football or soccer season, Dossett said. The synthetic turf "is a lot more forgiving of activity. It really dramatically improves use of the space, and upgrades the entire facility."

The new football turf will be marked for soccer as well, and the track will be reconfigured to allow the dimension of a soccer field to fit on the football field. That will provide more than one field for soccer games and allow Urbana to host soccer tournaments, Dossett said.

The improvements to the complex also include new bleachers with storage underneath, a new concession stand, and a new main entrance off Michigan Avenue with an arched gateway and "walk of fame." There will be new scoreboards and energy-efficient lighting. Dossett said the district is applying for grants to help pay for the lighting.

The bleachers have needed increasing repairs over the years, Dossett said. The district had them evaluated, and they need replacing.

The track also needs replacing, said girls track coach Amy Boscolo. Moisture that collects underneath the track when it rains causes the track surface to bubble up. It's been patched in several places over the last couple of years, she said.

The track teams will be displaced from their home track during their outdoor season while the work is under way this spring. They'll practice at the track at Centennial High School, Boscolo said. Their home meets are being rescheduled so Urbana can host them at either Centennial or another school that will be participating in the meet.

"We'll run wherever we need to run. We'll practice wherever we need to practice," Boscolo said. "The benefits we'll get out of (the new track) will be totally worth it."

The new facilities are the results of years' worth of planning, she said.

"Urbana is going to be the place people want to come to for invitationals. Whether it's track or football or soccer ... It's just going to be a lot of fun to work with when it gets here," Boscolo. "It's going to be top-notch all the way around."

The district will take bids on the next phase of work in February and that work should begin as soon as weather permits in the spring. Work on the soccer field won't begin until after the spring soccer season. All the renovations are scheduled to be finished by August 2011.

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