By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Field High School’s Kenneth Lohr Stadium is getting a new look in 2024.
Installation of field turf, as well as new LED lighting, speakers and a drainage system, was school-board approved on Monday.
The project, which will cost an estimated $1.3 to $1.4 million, has been set for a timeline that would allow the stadium renovation to be completed and ready for competition by the start of the fall 2024 season.
Funding for the renovation comes from the school district’s permanent improvement funds, which were created through the renewal levy that was placed on the ballot in November at five years and 1-mill. It was part of a combined levy, Issue 21, which also included a renewal of a five-year, 10.75-mill operating-expense renewal that passed 3,510 to 3,051.
“The idea of putting in turf is part of a conversation that has been talked about for a long time,” Field Superintendent David Heflinger said. “The private funding for a project of this size never materialized in that way.”
The permanent-improvement funds are set for school districts to use in a very specific way. They can only be used toward the improvement of any property or asset with an estimated life or usefulness of five years or more.
Heflinger, who is in his 11th year leading the district, said the field-turf installation is the continuation of nine years dedicated toward making improvements to the campus and football stadium.
Previously, the district has added new aluminum bleachers, renovated the parking lot and its drainage, poured concrete pads to the ticket gate and concessions area, added a concrete sidewalk from the parking lot to the visitor’s bleachers and added a patio with tables near the concessions.
“The next big thing was upgrading our lights and adding in the turf,” Heflinger said.
“Athletics are not our district’s most important thing, and to be honest, if we didn’t have the permanent-improvement money, we would not be putting in turf, but athletics are a very important experience for a lot of our students, their families and our communities, as well as so many youth organizations in our district.”
Kenneth Lohr Stadium, which is now 50 years old, was built in 1974 and dedicated in Lohr’s name on Aug. 29, 1980 after his death on Feb. 3, 1980 (he was 48) and after decades of volunteer work and service, including being one of the primary builders of the stadium itself.
The district does not have a digital rendering of the field design yet, but they have selected some specifics.
The field will be a uniform green throughout — a combination of a dark green and a light green color pattern stitched together— from goal line to goal line.
The end zones will be red, with “FIELD” and “FALCONS” in white typography that will be trimmed in black.
At midfield will be the district’s official Falcons logo.
The lines for the soccer field will be placed on the field in black.
All of the work will be done by Maumee Bay Turf, which is headquartered in Oregon, Ohio.
“Our kids deserve nice things and the community deserves a nice place to hold as a point of pride,” Heflinger said. “Our district’s communities are growing, changing and evolving and the school has to grow, change and evolve. The two go hand in hand with each other.”
Weather will naturally be a component against the timeline, but Heflinger anticipates that the project will begin this spring and will be completed by July.
If that timeline holds true, the Falcons’ girls soccer team will be the first to play an official game on the new turf when they host Norton on (Tuesday) Aug. 20.
The first home football game for the Falcons is Aug. 23 vs. Mogadore.