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Work begins on turf field at Catawba College

SALISBURY — Catawba College has begun work on upgrading drainage and replacing turf at Kirkland Field in Shuford Stadium, a major step in converting the football and lacrosse field into a community multi-use field.

The work is part of the college’s current fund-raising efforts, Mind, Body, Soul: Catawba’s Campaign for Growth. The project was funded entirely by private donations, with Greg and Missie Alcorn of Salisbury providing the major gift.

“We are pleased to participate in the conversion of the football and lacrosse field into a multi-use field to be used by the entire community,” Alcorn said.

The project, in the planning stages for more than three years, is expected to be completed this summer and meets the college’s environmental standards. Converting the grass field to artificial turf means that the facility can be used seven days a week, according to Larry Leckonby, Catawba athletic director. The field will be the first artificial turf football and lacrosse field in Rowan County.High school sports programs will have the opportunity to use the field, and it will greatly increase recreational facilities for Catawba, Leckonby said.

In addition, it will be a resource for college intramural and club sports programs and the marching band.

“It will be a full-purpose campus facility and will enhance student life,” he added.

Meg Dees, vice president of development at Catawba, said, “We are so thankful for the generosity of the Alcorns. Over the past two years, we have had 49 donors step up with restricted gifts for this project. These gifts have ranged in sizes, but all have been designated for this project that will be such a positive addition to our school and our community. Gifts have been made by past football players, past members of the marching band, and alums and supporters excited by the field being able to be used for so many activities.”

With the current grass field, “we took great care not to use that field in an effort to keep it in good shape for football and lacrosse,” Leckonby said.

Still, it could become a muddy field during heavy rains. For instance, during heavy rains in February, the Kirkland field could not be used for practice for approximately 10 days. With the artificial turf, the field will be ready for play 20 minutes after a rain storm.

Leckonby also sees the improved field as a recruiting tool. “Most high school athletes, outside of Rowan County, play on artificial turf,” he said.

The project also includes an adjustable set of goal posts, since high school and college programs are required to use different sizes of goal posts.

In keeping with Catawba’s role as a proven environmental leader in the state, the project is using a mixture of sand and BrockFill, an engineered wood particle infill, instead of a less environmentally friendly rubber product, beneath the artificial turf. BrockFill, specifically designed for artificial turf, is a sustainable, renewable, organic infill product. There is zero waste in production and 100 percent of the tree is ultimately used.

The contractor for the project is Astroturf Construction of Lexington. The company is committed to the environment, stating that each AstroTurf field can save up to 20,000,000 gallons of water, without use of pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.

The work going on at Shuford Stadium is part of a $1.3 million football project that also includes a new state-of-the-art scoreboard.

Work also has begun on two tennis courts.

The fundraising goal for all the athletic improvements at Catawba is $2,847,000. That project included the installation of the softball field lights, the start-up of outdoor beach volleyball and renovations to basketball locker rooms and coaches offices.

Nearly $1 million has been raised so far, according to the most recent update.

The turf field should solve all weather-related problems and delays. It also eliminates most of the expenses involved with maintenance, mowing, fertilizing and pesticides.

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