GREEN BAY- Summer break is here, and construction projects are rolling out.Some of the most visible work: artificial turf being put down on athletic fields.Steam shovels and back hoes are driving down the football field: Both in De Pere, and at Green Bay Southwest High School."A lot of digging and a lot of moving," said Ben Villarreul, De Pere Schools Superintendent."It's about safety and reliability of having an even surface," said Mark Champion, the president of the booster club at Southwest High School.Both schools are switching from grass to synthetic turf.De Pere's athletic director says despite the higher cost up front, he hopes the artificial turf will hold up better than the grass field."I think a lot of people look at field turf and they're using it on Friday night for football. But we have JV football, two freshmen teams, two eighth grade teams, two seventh grade teams, soccer, tons of Phy. Ed., band, and a million uses. It can be use repetitively. You don't have to worry about resting that field like you have to do with grass," said Jeff Byczek, the athletic director at De Pere High School.Both schools raised funds for the projects rather than taxpayer dollars.De Pere High School says the cost of putting in new turf will be around one million dollars.That surface will last ten to 15 years.It didn't have an estimate on annual maintenance on its grass field. Green Bay Southwest High School says it spent at least $40 thousand a year in upkeep for the grass field.This artificial turf will cost roughly 750 thousand dollars, lower than the estimated one million."It's not necessarily going to pay for itself over 10 years or 15 years because we have to replace it. It's more providing a smooth and consistent surface that all of our athletic teams can use throughout the year," said Champion.Champion says the booster club has raised 350 thousand dollars so far, less than halfway to its goal.De Pere says it is nearing its goal. Both schools hope to be done by the end of August in time for football season.DePere's Project Redbird also includes upgrades to soccer fields and a baseball diamond, totaling around 3.4 million dollars.Southwest will resurface its track around the football field as part of its project. That costs an additional 130 thousand dollars.
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