New turf field brings dynamic impact to community

AJ Floodstrand, Sports Editor

One of the many changes around the Appleton Area School District this summer was the change of the Paul Engen Stadium from regular grass field to the synthetic turf field. This change has many people wondering what exactly is synthetic turf? And why did Appleton North invest in it?

To start off, synthetic turf is the replacement of the regular grass to improve appearance and the functions. One of the primary reasons for the switch is that the synthetic turf makes the field much more accessible and makes maintenance easier. For example, a rainy day on a regular grass surface could cancel or postpone a game. However, with the synthetic turf there is a higher probability of the game being played.  

The How

So why exactly did Appleton North invest in this change? Noctiluca sat down with North Activities Director Mr. Kevin Herrling. 

“The outdoor athletic facilities needed to be renovated, because they are 20 years old,” Mr. Herrling said. About two years ago former Activities Director and current Associate Principal Mr. David Pynenberg made renovations to the Varsity Softball Field because of Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association rule changes. The Varsity Softball field was renovated by moving in the outfield fences, putting in foul poles, a new scoreboard and an addition of a concession stand.

A two and half year committee decided together to make changes on the outdoor features of the North campus. The committee looked at the different needs at North and narrowed them down. Appleton North was not the only school in the process for field turf. Appleton East and Appleton West are included. Appleton East and Appleton North were on the same start from the beginning. Appleton West did not join from the start because of other needs. “When the project was finalized, we realized the addition of two fields (Appleton North and Appleton East) would be enough for a time.” However, Appleton West will be receiving the turf next year.

The Cost

Appleton North and Appleton East received $37,000 from a Nike agreement. “In the agreement with Nike in two years Appleton East Varsity teams must have Nike Jerseys,” Herrling said. On field advertisement has been an option after the deal with Nike, but not one Appleton North is looking for. Mr. Herrling feels that there are better options for advertisement. “I like that our field doesn’t look like a race car track.”

However, the turf was not going to be the only addition. The original renovation plan included an expansion of restrooms, concession stand, scoreboard, track and the change of the Press Box from the west side to the east side. The track was originally a part of  the deal with Nike. Mr. Herrling hopes to bring the estimated $125,000 track in the near future. “We are planning to put it on the School District’s five year long term plan.” Unlike the fieldturf, the track is taxable. If successful, he hopes to have it completed within the next two spring(s).


There are a variety of great benefits to the turf field. From the financial standpoint it will be less maintenance. Mr. Herrling said it will be more beneficial compared to the regular grass surface. “It will be a significant amount of savings.”  The fieldturf will also provide a place for  community events. “I’m hoping to have Pop Warner, Soccer and Semi Pro Football,” Herrling said.  In exchange for the use of the turf field, there will be a fee. The fee would vary depending on the use of the field, the utilities and the duration.  Mr. Herrling believes the whole school and community will benefit from the field turf.  

What’s in the Turf & Who will maintain it?

The turf, made by Astro-Turf, is made out of recycled Nike tennis shoes.  This is one of the primary reasons why Astro-Turf and Nike are partnering together. “The idea of partnering with High Schools is fairly new,” Mr. Herrling said. As for the maintenance aspect, it will be generally maintained by North High School maintenance. However, within the agreement with Astro-Turf is included a two to three year special in the heavy duty types of maintenance.

 Difference Between Grass and Regular Turf

The regular turf has hopes to surpass the grass in various ways. “We will able to have three boys soccer teams, three girls soccers teams and three levels of football on the turf,” Herrling said. Not only will the turf field be beneficial for the athletic aspect, but the band will be able to march on it without the grass being torn up. “I don’t think people know how much the band uses the field,” Mr. Herrling said. In the spring Mr. Herrling hopes it can be used for Spring Sports such as baseball and softball.  The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association also looks positively at  the field turf.  “The WIAA loves fieldturf, because it doesn’t get beat up as much.” Mr. Herrling said he hopes it can be used for neutral sites for the playoffs.


In comparison to the regular grass field, the Astro-Turf has less risk for injury. When a player falls or gets tackled, the harder the surface, the more likely for them to sustain injuries.  The surface is measured by the GMAX score, the lower the score the better. Average GMAX scores range into 165 to 185 for a regular field. Below 140 is good for a turf field.  However scores will vary in different places. “The GMAX score will be different areas, because some areas will be used more than the others.” Mr. Herrling said. In one area the GMAX score was 120.  These low GMAX scores can reduce the number of concussions.

The addition of the fieldturf provides an opportunity for a better playing environment. Players believe it gives them an advantage and a confidence boost. Senior offensive lineman Andrew Mayer agrees. “I think the turf gives us confidence,”  Mayer said. Senior Wide Receiver Dylan Mayer believes the turf is an important factor to the success of the team. “It is so much faster than grass.”  The turf field should bring many new opportunities to Appleton North and the community.

Photo by Alex Neumann

Field 6.6Photo by Alex Neumann

Field 5.5Photo by Alex Neumann

Field 8-2Photo by Alex Neumann

Photo by Alex Neumann