Field's Astroturf to be in place for team's opener
Some red accents will join the black and gold on the field.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Astroturf being installed this week to replace the grass field at Warren G. Harding High School's Mollenkopf Stadium will boast a color scheme reflecting the city's high school histories from both sides of town.
The new artificial turf playing field will be ready for the Harding Raiders football team's home opener Aug. 26.
The $450,000 turf project will be dedicated at that game, in which the Raiders will play Cleveland JFK. The project was paid for by a combination of $150,000 borrowed by the school board; $220,000 in combined revenues from football program book and stadium billboard advertising and football parking fees over 10 years; and $80,000 in private donations, said Paul Trina, city schools athletic director.
A sneak preview
The turf, being installed by Pro Grass of Pittsburgh, will feature a gold and white football helmet reflecting the Raider colors, with a black face mask and red and white spear at the 50 yard line.
Before Warren Western Reserve closed on the city's West Side, the school had the black, gold and white/silver Raider mascot; Warren G. Harding for decades had its black, white/silver and red Panther mascot. When all the students went to Harding on the East Side, the West Side's Raider and school colors were adopted.
"We're adding an accent color of red, so the arrow's actually going to be red and white," Trina said. A fund-raising committee looked at the tradition.
The design is an opportunity "to look at the tradition of our community and include it all and embrace it," Trina said. "The addition of the red signifies some of the old Warren Harding."
It will incorporate colors from Harding and the former Warren Western Reserve High School. Western Reserve merged with Harding in 1990 in a cost-cutting move.
The Astroturf project is part of a multiyear, $1.4 million athletic field reconfiguration project, Mollenkopf Athletic Complex Project, which will dovetail with the construction of the new Harding High School, set to begin next spring.
Its main purposes
The new soft, state-of-the-art, heavy-duty Astroturf is designed to minimize athletic injuries, improve drainage and allow the field to be used for other athletic activities in addition to football games, Trina said. "It comes with an eight-year warranty. We think that it's going to last 10 to 12 years. We're saving $35,000 a year in maintenance expenses," such as grass-cutting, sodding, fertilizing and painting, Trina said.
Earth removed from the stadium in the project has been transferred to adjacent land. A new baseball field that school officials hope will be ready next spring will be on a former parking lot there.
Once the new high school opens and construction equipment is removed from adjacent land, a new soccer field surrounded by an eight-lane track, an additional multi-purpose athletic practice field and four new tennis courts will be installed. The athletic complex is projected to be completed in about 2009.
Private fund raising is under way for lighting and a new or expanded band shell to be installed at the stadium, the new soccer and track facility, the new multipurpose athletic practice field and tennis courts.
Trina said he wasn't sure what would be done with a Civil War era stable in the athletic complex, which now serves as a storage facility for band equipment. School officials discussed moving that structure, and have determined that the beams are the only original components of the structure, Trina said.