BY KARISSA MILLER
The Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education is considering a five-year plan for athletic stadium upgrades at all five district high schools.
The plan includes improved lighting, new tracks and artificial turf for the stadiums at Lake Norman, North Iredell, Statesville, South Iredell and West Iredell.
“Our current tracks are no longer able to be resurfaced due to the asphalt underneath them,” explained I-SS Chief Technology, Facilities and Maintenance Officer Tim Ivey.
“We have some drainage issues and the primary issue we are seeing is the rubber coating is starting to give way. Some of our tracks are posing a serious safety issue to our students and athletes if we don’t address them,” he added.
North Iredell High School is no longer able to host track meets due to the condition of the school’s track, Ivey said.
Currently, the district is spending $100,000 per year per field to maintain grass fields in its athletics stadiums; that totals $500,000 per year for all five high schools. That figure includes the cost of mowing, fertilizer, water and routine maintenance.
Stadium lighting also needs to be updated to provide the appropriate lighting for student athletes.
The light poles at North Iredell, South Iredell and West Iredell cannot be upgraded because they do not meet the 100-mph wind rating. Statesville and Lake Norman have updated poles, but both need LED light upgrades, Ivey said.
Statesville’s stadium lights have rusted panels that could fail during play with no option to get the lights turned back on, Ivey said. He received a quote of $142,800 from Camp Electric.
Tracks are Breaking Down
The rubber coating on North Iredell’s track is starting to come up and pieces of it are coming apart. There are also areas where the rubber coating has been repaired, but is not adhering.
At West Iredell, the track isn’t showing as much wear, but the surface is beginning to give way in several areas. “In the next year or two, it will be very similar to the track at North Iredell,” he added.
Ivey is recommending that the district upgrade one high school athletic stadium a year for the next five years. The total estimated cost is $2.5 million to $3.7 million per site.
“The purpose of doing it is so that you have to recondition those, you aren’t doing it all at the same time,” he said.
The recommended rotation Schedule, which is based on current track conditions and safety – listed poorest condition to best:
• North Iredell 8 lane track – only school with enough space. The estimated cost is $3,636,625 with GeoSurfaces and Camp Electric (turf, track, and lighting upgrades)
• West Iredell (6 lane track)
• Lake Norman (6 lane track)
• Statesville (6 lane track)
• South Iredell (6 lane track)
Switching to Synthetic Grass
A committee looked at different field options and they recommend a synthetic grass known as “IronTurf.” For the track, the committee recommended using Mondo Track Surface and for lighting GeoSport Lighting. Ivey said that these brands were recommended due to warranties, product comparison, longevity and other factors.
“Mondo is the only track surface with a warranty that is not voided if you have to drive on the track,” Ivey said.
He said that lottery funds and capital funds could be used to pay for these upgrades.
North Iredell and Weathers High School, the future high school, would be the only schools that would have an eight-lane track because there is enough room there. This would allow the district to host a regional event there.
Meanwhile, the other high schools would have six-lane tracks due to stadium logistics.
The economic impact of updating stadium facilities would generate an estimated $5 million, which includes money spent at restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc.
The estimated profit from facilities use is $150,000 per school, per year that would go back into athletics and savings for turf/track resurfacing.
Ivey also said that Iredell County could become an athletic destination for sport tournaments and families could stay in county rather than travel out of county to play at other facilities.
Ivey said that he wants to be a good steward of the funding and believes this plan gives the district longevity and a track and field that the community can be proud of.
Board members pointed out that synthetic turf is what many other districts are using and that it will be a cost savings in the long run. Synthetic turf can have up to a 17-year lifecycle. They also mentioned that multiple sports are being played and that it allows for little downtime with weather.
School board members seemed to respond positively to the presentation and will vote next Monday on whether to fund North Iredell High School’s stadium upgrade this year at the November 14 meeting.