Incoming football coach Mike Burzawa won’t be the only new addition to the Evanston Township High School athletic department. Next fall the former Driscoll Catholic skipper and his Wildkits will have new sidelines to roam. ETHS athletic director Chris Livatino confirmed plans to replace the grass field at Memorial Stadium with the same artificial surface found in many NCAA and NFL stadiums. Installation of the new FieldTurf surface, which is a blend of silica sand, cryogenic rubber and polyethylene fibers, will begin May 27.
“This is by no means just a football improvement,” said Mr. Livatino.
The stadium is also home for boys and girls soccer and lacrosse. The new surface will reduce injuries from potholes and lumps that often formed on the grass field, said Mr. Livatino, and will prevent game cancellations due to poor field conditions.
“It’s the only way to guarantee a playing surface that is safe and reliable,” he said.
The total cost of the new field is approximately $850,000. District 202 set aside $500,000 for the resurfacing in this year’s budget. Mr. Livatino said the school has applied for and feels confident it will obtain a $200,000 grant from the National Football League. The remainder will come from private donations. He said the Murney Lazier Alumni Group and other donors have already contributed $105,000.
Mr. Livatino said the District spent $45-50,000 per year maintaining the natural grass field. He expects the new artificial field to reduce annual maintenance to only $5,000.
The new field will be available for other community sports programs free of charge. Mr. Livatino said the field will host games for Junior Wildkit Football, American Youth Soccer Association, OLE Soccer and Lakeshore Lacrosse, among others, as field-conditions will no longer need to be preserved for varsity games.
“We want to bring the community, and the feeder [sports] programs, closer to the high school,” said Mr. Livatino. “We want kids to grow up playing their sport in an Evanston atmosphere.”