Controversies arise between SHS sports programs and city organizations

Grace Hicks, Web Staff

Everyone has been in awe by the new Barlow Stadium facilites, but it has sparked the community into debate: Should the field be redone with grass or turf? There are multiple factors that have a big impact on the decision.

Since it is a city owned facility all users have a say in the matter such as the the non-profit, Festival of Sandpoint and Sandpoint High School.

The field is used by Sandpoint’s boys and girls soccer, football and baseball programs.

Most athletes who participate in these field sports would agree that turf would be their preference.

“I like turf because it requires less management and it doesn’t get muddy when it rains,” junior football player Braden Payne said.

For athletes, a turf field would afford better year-round play regardless of poor weather conditions.

“We can use it in the winter, and it’s dryer when it rains,” sophomore soccer player Kiley Webster said.

Kris Knowles, Sandpoint High’s athletic director, explained the process of how the decision will be made.

“Since it is a city owned facility, they will hold a meeting with all the field users, and they will have a forum,” Knowles said. “The information from the forum will be sent to City Council, and they ultimately make the final decision.”

He also expressed that the high school’s perspective is that they would like to see an artificial surface.

“This allows for guaranteed playability. We can host district soccer and playoff football games, without worrying about the field being torn up.”

As for organizations like the Festival of Sandpoint, they rely on the natural surface as it is perfect to host the event.

“As a Festival fan, the natural grass option provides an ideal surface for Festival concerts,” President of the Festival Board of Directors Cari House said. “Natural grass is a more enjoyable surface for concert goers. The surface is much cooler on hot summer nights and the natural grass provides the atmosphere our fans enjoy.”

This enjoyable atmosphere would not be in existence without the Festival production crew. Set up for the Festival would become extremely difficult on a turf surface, as the crew has to stake in tents, put in the sound system, and the Festival street vendors may not even be allowed, if any damage will be made to the field.

“The Festival is unsure if we would be able to exist on turf,” House said.

So, we must ask the question, is turf really the answer to Memorial field? It is beneficial to the athletes of Sandpoint, but it could be detrimental to the Festival. Natural grass could be the win-win situation that will please all users.

This question will be answered by City Council in the near future.