Dirt flying at Aspen’s athletic field | AspenTimes.com

Dirt flying at Aspen’s athletic field

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Work to improve the Aspen public schools athletic field on Maroon Creek Road is under way.Officials expect the installation of artificial turf, lights and a new set of visiting-team bleachers expected to be complete by Aug. 1. The first day of football practice is Aug. 14; the district deliberately left a two-week margin in case unforeseen troubles slow down the project, said Superintendent Diana Sirko.

The Aspen School District staged a groundbreaking ceremony at the old athletic field Monday, although the ground was already well-broken by crews scooping up turf and topsoil. The athletic field is next to Aspen Middle School, which will also undergo a transformation this summer. The district last year got voter approval to build a new middle school, wrapping the new structure around the existing school so that students can attend classes during construction.Also on tap are new home-team bleachers and a combination concession stand/press box/coaches crow’s-nest building. These projects will take place in summer of 2007, although the district is considering buying the materials now to avoid paying higher costs down the road.

The district is shelling out $989,000 for the lights and the new Field Turf artificial surface, which will add weeks to the playing season because artificial turf generally clears of snow more quickly than sod.A total of $1.5 million has been raised to date, including a $300,000 contribution from the city of Aspen for the new turf because its expects to use the field occasionally. Another $300,000 came from the school district, and the rest from private donations.Sirko said the lights at the field are “high-tech” and designed with “a minimal amount of splashback” to minimize the disturbance to surrounding homes.

“It’ll be wonderful,” she predicted. “It won’t be like the X Games.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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