YARMOUTH — The fall sports season is more than half over, but it finally kicked off in earnest this week at Yarmouth High School.
The school’s new artificial turf field debuted on Monday and was scheduled to host 12 games in its first six days – after six weeks of delays that are likely to result in the School Department trying to recover some costs and lost income from the field installer.
The $1.5 million project, which was approved by voters in November and included a new press box and resurfaced running track, appeared to be on schedule over the summer to host practices beginning Aug. 19.
But in late August it was discovered that the field’s football hash marks had been installed improperly. On a grass field, you’d just repaint them. On artificial turf, it’s a little more complicated.
“Basically, they didn’t double-check their work and that’s kind of a big deal,” Athletic Director Susan Robbins said. “So the company, Sprinturf, realized their mistake and that it was on them. They owned it, and at no additional cost to the town, they had to cut out the inside of the field and redo all the lines they’d already inlaid.”
Webb Cook, national sales director of Georgia-based Sprinturf, did not respond to a request for comment.
Inlaying the lines again took more than two weeks, and rain over Labor Day weekend delayed the process of filling the field with a sand and rubber mixture, Robbins said.
After that, Yarmouth squeezed in a couple of contests on the new field: a field hockey game on Sept. 11 and a football game on Sept. 12. But then it was time to resurface the running track surrounding the turf, closing the field for nearly three more weeks.
“A lot of people asked why we didn’t delay the respray, but you need good weather to do it,” Robbins said. “We couldn’t wait until April, because it would be much too cold at that point to have it cure” in time for track season.
With the fall athletic season mere weeks away, Robbins had to scramble to reschedule games, without compromising the welfare of her student athletes. For soccer and field hockey – teams that play many of their opponents twice in a season – she arranged to have Yarmouth play on opponents’ fields during the first half of the season, and at home during the second half.
“The other athletic directors in our conference have been fantastic,” Robbins said. “They understand this is a problem that cropped up and it was nothing we could control. So they’ve been really flexible about moving things around. We couldn’t have done it without cooperation from other schools.”
By the end of the season, Yarmouth will have had to cancel only one home football game and a handful of other home games.
“It was frustrating for some of the senior parents, but it wasn’t a big loss,” Darren Hamre, president of the Yarmouth Soccer Boosters, said. “We’re glad it’s done and it was done right.”
The school is preparing a damage claim against Sprinturf for revenue from lost concessions and gate receipts.
“We don’t want our booster groups to lose out on money that they could’ve potentially raised through concessions and things like that,” Robbins said. “But we’re not looking to stick (Sprinturf) with a ton of bills. They’re doing their best to get us back on the field as soon as possible.”
Robbins said she did not yet know how much money was lost or the amount of the claim.
The project, meanwhile, isn’t quite finished. The newly refurbished track won’t be painted until late October or early November, and netting at both ends of the field, used for lacrosse, still needs to be installed.
But you wouldn’t have known it on Monday, when fans packed the stands to watch a soccer triple-header against rival Falmouth, and lined up at the concessions stand for hot dogs, popcorn, candy and hot chocolate.
“Yarmouth and Fitzpatrick Stadium had the first turf in the state,” Robbins said. “It’s been a staple. On Saturday mornings we have Pip Squeak Soccer and (youth) lacrosse. It’s literally used for K-12.
“The bottom line is the turf is a great source of pride for our community,” she said, “and will continue to be for many years.”
Yarmouth’s varsity girls’ soccer team scrimmages Monday before its first game on the school’s new artificial turf field.
Monica Moore drinks hot chocolate from the concessions stand Monday at Yarmouth High School during this season’s first girls’ varsity soccer game on the school’s new turf field.