CEDAR RAPIDS — Out with the crown. In with the carpet.
Xavier High School has announced that Saints Field, home of the two-time defending Class 3A football state champions, will transition to an artificial-turf surface next season.
The project, estimated at $1.5 million, will begin in the spring and is expected to be completed in time for the Saints’ season opener Aug. 30 against Iowa City Regina.
“We’ve been blessed with a couple of very, very generous donors interested in getting this started,” Xavier Principal Tom Keating said. “This has been on our wish list for quite some time, and we thought it was still a long ways out, but some generous folks said, ‘You bet. Let’s get going.’”
Xavier’s transition to turf will leave only one high school grass competition field in the Metro — Thomas Park Field, home of the Marion Indians.
Saints Coach Duane Schulte holds a fondness for grass fields, but said, “I think it’s due, it’s needed. We need it probably as much for practice as we do for games.
“The field did its job for 21 years, but when it rains, it gets pretty muddy.”
Keating said the school has met with an architect to start the bidding process with turf companies.
In a rendering emailed from the school to The Gazette on Wednesday, the field will be two-toned green, alternating between light green and dark green each 5 yards. Both end zones will be navy, with XAVIER spelled out in the south end zone and SAINTS in the north. A large school logo will be displayed at midfield.
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Xavier was constructed in 1998, and Saints Field sits to the north of the school. It didn’t drain well upon original construction, so the field was fitted with a crown before the fall of 1999.
It was a noticeable crown. Players and coaches from one sideline couldn’t see below the knees of their counterparts on the other sideline.
Xavier officials estimate that the turf field will provide annual savings of $40,000 in maintenance of the field (irrigation, mowing, aerating, rolling, fertilization, weed control and striping), along with significant time saved for their buildings and grounds staff.
More than football will be affected in the remodeling. Keating expects most of the Saints’ soccer games to be played at Heco Field, though some games could move to Saints Field if weather dictates or if they want to play under the lights.
Also, the long jump and high jump pits for track and field will be moved inside the stadium.
Schulte is the only football coach Xavier has had. He was there when Saints Field was constructed, and he’ll be there — with a shovel — when the natural surface is taken out.
“I’m going to go get a piece of that sod and take it home,” he said.
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