Fundraising Efforts Under Way for NRHS Track Surface and Artificial Turf Field

Published in the December 12, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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Every spring, Nashoba Regional football field emerges from winter's icy grip as the same cleat-ravaged sea of mud that it was at the end of the previous fall. But if an ambitious school district fundraising effort is successful, that field will soon be as pristine and game-ready every spring as it is for the first kickoff of every fall.

The district recently launched a capital campaign to raise an estimated $1.4 million dollars for the construction of what is being termed a “community competition complex,” including a new track surface and a multi-use field of artificial turf, similar to those now in use at rivals Wachusett Regional and Westboro high schools.

The synthetic turf would require less regular maintenance than a grass field and would be much more durable and versatile, so much so that the football team would not be the only Chieftains team to benefit from the renovation, according to athletic director Tom O'Brien. Currently, the main field is used only about 25 times a year, because more extensive use would render the grass field unplayable. With artificial turf, playability would no longer be an issue, and since a lighting system is already in place, multiple events involving multiple sports (potentially including middle and elementary school activities as well) could be scheduled per day, into the evening hours if necessary.

Even teams such as baseball and softball, which would not compete on the new surface, would benefit indirectly from its implementation. Currently, the football team practices on the baseball outfield, and the field hockey team practices and plays on the softball outfield

“Our baseball outfield is probably the worst playing surface we have here, and that's due to the football team practicing on it during the fall. By the time the snow melts there's not a blade of grass on it,” O'Brien said. “The same goes for the softball field. So those are ways in which a new main field surface will also improve our other facilities.”

Although the costs of installation are steep, district officials expect that those expenses will be at least in part offset by savings in maintenance costs and by additional revenues that could come from renting out the new turf field as well as the high school's other grass fields when they are not in use by the district. Future plans might also involve the acquisition of a portable stage that could be used for non-athletic events.

As was the case in Westboro, Nashoba Regional district officials are hoping to raise all necessary up-front funds through private donations; letters were mailed in the last few weeks soliciting donations from Chieftain alumni as well as residents of the district's three towns. In addition, O'Brien has submitted grant requests to dozens of local companies.

“We're trying to be a little more creative here,” said school committee chair Cathy Giunta, who is the school committee's representative to the CCC fundraising committee. “The capital campaign is to try to raise as much as possible in order to move forward. But it doesn't have to be all in one year. If we build this summer, we will still be fund raising next year.”

If $500,000 can be raised by April 1, then ideally contractors could break ground the day after graduation, O'Brien said. Although the Kraft family famously replaced Gillette Stadium's natural grass field with artificial turf within the span of a week last November, O'Brien estimates that the time frame for installation at the high school would probably be closer to six or eight weeks – meaning the new field would be in place when fall sports teams begin practices in August.

“We certainly don't have the budget that they had at Gillette,” he said. “But I use that example all the time. If they could do it in a week, we think we can certainly do it over the course of a summer, and in talking to the contractors they seem to think that's doable.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made by calling 978/779-0539 or e-mailing superintendent Michael Wood at

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239