Private $3.9 million project would upgrade two Troy stadiums

Troy's Jacob Anderson (left) and Sam Jackson (right) trip up Tippecanoe's Nyles Anderson (top) during a GWOC American North game against Tippecanoe on Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Combined ShapeCaption
Troy's Jacob Anderson (left) and Sam Jackson (right) trip up Tippecanoe's Nyles Anderson (top) during a GWOC American North game against Tippecanoe on Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Fundraising is underway; turf at Troy Memorial Stadium and Ferguson Field would allow the fields to be used more often

TROY — A group of local volunteers is raising money privately for a $3.9 million project that would replace the natural grass with artificial turf at Troy Memorial Stadium and the nearby Ferguson Field.

The Stadium and Turf Enhancement Project, or STEP, is being unveiled with hopes the project to bring artificial turf can be underway in summer 2023 with use of the facilities that fall.

A $1 million pledge by the Ernst Family/Ernst Concrete sparked the project, which had been suggested for several years but not pursued due to cost, said Troy schools Superintendent Chris Piper.

“This year is different because we have a local benefactor who is going to make a very sizable and generous donation … That is what got this ball rolling,” he said.

With that pledge, supporters put together the committee of residents, coaches and business leaders to take on raising nearly $3 million more, said Tom Kleptz, a STEP member.

Another $250,000 was pledged to the project in late June by The Troy Foundation Distribution Committee, and grant applications have been filed, including with an NFL program.

The committee wants everyone to know one thing upfront, he said.

“No taxpayer funds will be used in the construction of the project,” Kleptz said.

The highlights of the project would be the new turf at the 10,510-seat Memorial Stadium for use for Troy High School football games and marching band events.

At Ferguson Field, the field would be reconfigured to a regulation-sized soccer field with permanent lighting and permanent upgrades to the press box, bleachers, scoreboard and fencing. That facility would be used for the school’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams.

Today, football and soccer games both are held at the stadium.

Project supporters say the artificial turf would have several benefits, including lower maintenance costs, safer playing environment, fewer event cancellations due to weather-caused poor field conditions, allowing athletes to practice on fields where games are played and more ability to host tournaments, bringing people to local businesses.

A budget estimate lists the cost for turf at Memorial Stadium at $1.32 million and the full Ferguson Field project at $2.58 million ($1.2 million for turf).

The board of education earlier this year agreed to support exploration of private funding for a project. The board wants to make a couple of things clear, Piper said.

“We have nice fields, we put a lot of time and effort into keeping them nice, but have to we keep our athletes off them. We want to give our kids more access,” he said. “And, this will be totally privately funded. There will be no tax dollars.”

In the meantime, the school district is again exploring options for new schools. The buildings remain a priority but are on hold as the district awaits word on when it will be eligible for state funding to help pay, Piper said.

More information on the project is available at www.stepfortrojans.com. Donations can be made through the STEP Fund at The Troy Foundation.

Contract this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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