ST ALBANS TOWN — The Collins Perley Athletic Complex may be getting a new turf field for football, soccer, lacrosse and more.
Collins Perley board members say a move to a turf field would eliminate two major issues concerning the sports fields: how long and how often they can be used for. But at what cost?
On Thursday, Kristopher Sabourin, board member for the complex and one of the spearheads for the project, told the Messenger, the total cost would be $1.1 million, should it succeed.
If eventually approved, a new turf field could be completed in a summer month’s time, ready for the fall sports season in St. Albans. No plans have been solidified yet.
Initial proposals and plans were discussed at the Dec. 1 Maple Run Unified Union School District meeting in St. Albans, where board members were introduced to the newest plans.
Currently, the complex has natural grass sports fields, which can become soft, beaten-up, flooded and frozen during northern Vermont’s fall and spring months. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the delay of northern sports seasons, it does end up sometimes forcing northern teams to practice inside a facility or on gravel in preparation for competing against southern teams, who may be playing on turf and grass.
“We live in northern Vermont and our spring, fall and community has problems getting on the field,” Sabourin said. “Turf field eliminates the inclement weather.”
Additionally, turf can be used more often for practices and matches because more teams can be scheduled for more hours in the day. Sports whose cleats can be destructive to natural grass fields would have more hours in the day to schedule without worrying about beating up the field. This would increase the availability of space to practice for northern teams, and more time options to schedule games.
“Natural grass fields you can only use a few times a week,” Sabourin said. “With a turf field, you can have games every day of the week and it wouldn't impact the turf field.”
For Sabourin, the issue is somewhat personal: the St. Albans native recalls fond memories of playing sports in St. Albans and being active as a student.
“The availability [of the fields] was very limited,” Sabourin told the Messenger. “Every year, the lacrosse team is lucky if they get out there in the first month. The fields are just so frozen and wet that you can’t play on them.”
Another thing Sabourin noticed was how the turf fields at away games were significantly more resilient to game play regardless of the sport. When he went to college at Norwich University, he noticed the same thing.
“[In those places] snow would get shoveled off the [turf)]field so we could play it,” Sabourin said.
The opportunity for students to practice and play more often and to have a resilient field open to the community would be an enormous asset, he said. It would allow teams to practice and play more often during the year, potentially affording athletes more opportunities to hone their skills.
A properly maintained turf field could last anywhere between 15-20 years and would cost around the same to maintain year-to-year, he said.
The price of the total project would be around $1.1 million as of the latest assessment, Sabourin said.
Though the Maple Run School District will be the main utilizers of the field, Sabourin said he thought putting the entire bill on the school district would not be right. Therefore, a bond will not be pursued.
The field would, however, be open to the public.
Funding options are still being explored, but he expects the majority to come from private donors, youth organizations and sports held there. The project’s approval is still pending.