Committee hoping to close window on pledges by Jan. 10, 2020

Among the holiday cards filling mailboxes this time of the year, the Grand Rapids community can expect letters from the Noble Hall Field Improvement Project Committee.

As of Dec. 6, the committee announced that $571,000 in pledges have been collected to install artificial turf at the facility. This is $129,000 short of the total goal of $700,000.

“We are so close to our goal, but in order to get this project complete and turf on the field by August 2020, we need to reach our goal of $700,000 by Jan. 10, 2020,” wrote committee co-chairs Mindy Nuhring and Tom Saxhaug.

The Jan. 10, 2020 deadline will allow spring sports to be able to play on Noble Hall Field because it won’t have to be “saved” for football, according to the committee. This will also mean the band can practice on the field during the coming summer before the field is replaced.

“Currently, we use Noble Hall Field for football, varsity boys and girls soccer, marching band and Itasca Community College football games,” explained ISD 318 Activities Director Anne Campbell.

According to Campbell, the field is used approximately 30 times in the fall, then the field is shut down until mid-August. There has been no use on the field in spring and summer due to trying to get it ready for the fall.

“The field takes a beating and is in very rough shape come mid-October,” said Campbell.

Should the goal be made by Jan., 10, the project schedule would have fall sports using the field by August 2020. Additionally, it will mean Grand Rapids High School, or others, will be able to host tournaments by fall of 2020.

As Campbell continued to explain, the turf field could also be used by community and youth organizations and “physical education classes will be able to use the turf for their activities and be able to enjoy the beautiful falls and springs we have.”

Campbell said schools that had natural grass performance fields, then added turf, report the use increased 10-fold. Brainerd went from 25 uses on grass each year to 227 on turf; Esko went from 18 on grass to more than 220 on turf.

“Every single athletic director I have talked to said it has been the best thing the school ever did for their student-athletes and marching band and the demand has been 24/7,” explained Campbell.

Other area school districts that have improved their fields to turf include Bemidji, Duluth East, Duluth Denfield, Proctor, Mt.Iron-Buhl and Superior. Both Virginia-Eveleth and Mesabi East have plans to add turf as well.

It is expected that Noble Hall Field will expand from 30-40 uses a year to more than 240. It currently serves about 140 kids with expectations to reach more than 1,000 students with turf.

As for turf lifespan, today’s turf manufacturers offer an eight-year warranty and a typical 10 year lifespan but in northern Minnesota with an annual use of seven to eight months, Campbell expects up to 15 years before a replacement would be needed.

“I am so thankful to our generous community citizens and organizations that have given to this project,” added Campbell. “Having come from a school that had grass and then added turf, I have first-hand witness the growth of users on the field.”

The committee has established several sponsorship levels which include advertising and recognition as well as listing on a Donor Appreciation Wall.

For more information on the Noble Hall Field Improvement Project, contact Mindy Nuhring at 218-259-4061, email fundnoblehall@gmail.com or visit facebook.com/NobleHallField. Checks can be written to the Noble Hall Field Improvement Project Fund and sent to the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation at 350 NW First Avenue, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.

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