Cobre High turf project underway

Written by on May 21, 2019
(Press Staff Photo by C.P. Thompson) Hellas Construction has begun tearing up the football field at Cobre High School in preparation for installing turf. Hellas Construction will also be installing turf on the CHS softball and baseball fields this summer. The football field is scheduled to be finished by June 26, while the softball field is to be finished by July 25 and the baseball field by Aug. 28.

(Press Staff Photo by C.P. Thompson)
Hellas Construction has begun tearing up the football field at Cobre High School in preparation for installing turf. Hellas Construction will also be installing turf on the CHS softball and baseball fields this summer. The football field is scheduled to be finished by June 26, while the softball field is to be finished by July 25 and the baseball field by Aug. 28.

A change some Cobre athletes will have to adjust to for next season is playing on turf instead of grass and dirt, something the administration and coaching staff believe will benefit the district.

Voters approved $7 million in general obligation bonds in August 2017 to make facility improvements in the district over the next four years. In October 2017, the district received half of those bonds to start on projects which include a well at San Lorenzo Elementary, a press box at the football field, computer tablets for teachers and the gym floor at Cobre High School.

The other $3.5 million will be used for projects such as improvements to the parking lot, playground and painting of San Lorenzo and LED marquees for all schools. Some of the money will also be spent on turf for the baseball, softball and football fields. 

The Cobre Consolidated Schools Board of Education approved in April to award Hellas Construction, which bid $2.45 million, a contract to handle field turf installation projects. According to a document sent by the district’s procurement officer, Jacque Gonzales, the football field is scheduled to be finished by June 26; the softball field project is set to begin June 3 and be finished July 25; and the baseball field will begin June 26 and end by Aug. 28. 

Superintendent Robert Mendoza told the Daily Press that the reason for switching to turf fields is because of “cost-saving in terms of longevity.” This includes watering and maintenance of the fields. Synthetic turf doesn’t need as much maintenance and lasts for more than 12 years. The warranty of all three fields will be 12 years. 

Cobre school board member Gilbert Guadiana believes that there wasn’t enough public input on the turf projects. 

“The genesis of the bond issue was we were $2.2 million overspent in a previous bond,” he said. “They decided to go to $7 million.”

He also isn’t in favor of the expense of turf because money can instead be spent on computer equipment for classrooms. The district’s decision for the fields to be turf didn’t have an analysis for ongoing costs for maintenance and/or replacement. 

Adrian Acosta, head baseball coach for Cobre High School, said the turf will benefit the team and maintenance staff. The turf will absorb the water when it rains and it won’t get muddy when it snows. Maintenance will have less of a workload because turf is easier to maintain. 

Playing on turf throughout the season will prepare the team for when they head to state because that is the only type of field they play on in Albuquerque, according to Acosta. The turf will cover the whole field, which means there will be “true hops” when the ball bounces off the ground. 

“Our outfield is notorious for bad hops,” Acosta said. 

He also added there shouldn’t be a significant difference with injuries, and there are turf shoes for athletes that are great for the field.

The Cobre baseball team hosts a yearly tournament and Acosta said the turf field will persuade more teams to participate.

Hatch Valley Public Schools officials offered nothing but great compliments about having a turf field. The district’s soccer, baseball and softball fields are all turf, which was paid out of bond money, Superintendent Linda Hale said. 

The main reason for switching to turf was because there wasn’t access to water, according to Hale. The turf was installed first at the baseball and soccer field — the outfield is used for the soccer pitch. 

While Hale recommended schools moving to turf, she said that soccer players have issues with it on hot days because they can feel the heat coming off the field through their shoes. 

However, Tony Bastine, athletic director at Hatch Valley, said that the athletes haven’t experienced any types of injuries that relate to the field. 

There haven’t been burns, scrapes or cleats getting stuck, he said. 

Western New Mexico University’s football field is grass, and Frank Tristan, head football coach, said the biggest advantage of having turf is for practice. 

“Constant practice won’t affect the surface,” he said. “A majority of the athletes like the turf because it looks cleaner.”

Andrew Mooneyhan, activity program director at the University of New Mexico, who holds a doctorate in kinesiology, said, “When an athlete turns on grass, the grass breaks. However, [turf] won’t break and will grip the cleat, turning your knee. Also on [turf], there is a higher possibility of burns than on grass.” 

C.P. Thompson may be reached at cp@scdaily press.com.

 

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