New artificial turf fields unveiled at Lakota’s high schools: What to know

A new era for Lakota prep sports is now starting as both of the district’s high schools are unveiling upgraded artificial turf playing fields for the first time since 2009.

Football players at Lakota East High School were the first to practice last week on their new rubberized grass field that sports school mascot logo designs and end zone markings.

Lakota West High School’s new field is in the final stages of installation and will be used by the school’s football and other fall sports teams shortly.

The new fields provided a boost of positive news for the 16,800-student Butler County school system. Like others around Ohio, Lakota has seen its boys and girls sports teams unable to compete or train for the upcoming fall season since all K-12 schools were ordered shuttered since March due to the coronavirus.

“I will be honest the last few months have been difficult for many and this is no different for our student athletes,” said Richard Bryant, athletic director for Lakota East.

“The ability to provide a positive at this point is amplified and we could not be more happy to reopen our facility to our student athletes,” said Bryant.

Lakota West Athletic Director Scott Kaufman echoed Bryant, saying his school’s new playing surface is now state-of-the-art and welcomed upgrade compared to the previous, 11-year-old, fading plastic turf field it replaced.

“Watching the field replacement get done has made for a really exciting start to the summer. It looks great and will provide an awesome and safe surface for our kids to play on,” said Kaufman.

The fields, which impact thousands of students beyond prep athletes and marching band members, have a predicted life of about a decade, depending on frequency of use and weather conditions.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Lakota’s prep fields and stadiums - located on the high school campuses in Liberty and West Chester townships - are also regularly rented out for youth and adult sports leagues during many warm weather evenings and weekends.

In 2009 the first-ever installation of plastic turf fields at the two high schools cost more than $1.5 million each due to the necessity of having to construct an underlying foundation and water drainage system.

The new turf fields – and their replaced underlying padding – cost each school about $500,000.

The revamped cushioning is one of the first things school athletes will notice, said Bryant.

“The surface is similar to walking on a pillow, it is state of the art and safe for our kids,” said Bryant. “The field is lined for football, soccer and boys and girls’ lacrosse. We are looking forward to all of our teams being able to practice and compete on a new surface.”

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