Packers dedicate new field turf

Austin head football coach Brett Vesel huddles his team before taking the field Friday night against Winona. It was the first home football game on the new field turf at Art Hass Stadium. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin head football coach Brett Vesel huddles his team before taking the field Friday night against Winona. It was the first home football game on the new field turf at Art Hass Stadium. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The new turf at the Wescott Athletic Complex was officially dedicated Thursday and Friday night before the soccer and football games.

“It’s very exciting for our kids and the community. I think it was a huge effort for everyone and it’s fun to see something come to fruition. We have a great community that’s very supportive,” AHS activities director Lisa Quednow said. “It’s a beautiful addition to our beautiful complex.”

Austin Public Schools worked with Vision 2020 to install artificial turf on two fields at the Wescott Athletic Complex and to install a seasonal dome over Art Hass Field.

Superintendent David Krenz leads a presentation to introduce those involved in getting artificial turf down at Art Hass Field and the adjacent soccer field before the Packers’ game against Winona Friday night.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Superintendent David Krenz leads a presentation to introduce those involved in getting artificial turf down at Art Hass Field and the adjacent soccer field before the Packers’ game against Winona Friday night. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The work was scheduled to finish in the first part of August, so the field would be ready and available for soccer and football games this fall. The weather did cause a few delays, but a two-week early start on the work helped workers finish on time. The dome is set to be put up in November, although the infrastructure for the dome was set up this summer.

The school board voted 5-1 to move forward on the $5.2 million project during its regular meeting on Feb. 10. The dome is part of a larger community recreation center project intended to meet community needs.

The domed field can be used for soccer, softball and baseball practices along with a few softball and soccer games. Austin Public Schools contributed $2.5 million from school reserves, and the Hormel Foundation donated $2.7 million, which was approved at the foundation’s Jan. 27 meeting.

The dome will be open to the community, and to adult and recreational athletic leagues.

The district has discussed putting artificial turf on the fields for several years, since some sports now require artificial turf for games. The artificial turf on both fields will give Austin an opportunity to host section tournament events, as the Minnesota State High School League now requires all football section title games to be played on turf.

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