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Artificial turf could be coming to Cloquet Schools

The approximately $4.5 million athletic facilities project includes the installation of artificial turf, along with renovations and expansions of the track space and tennis courts.

Garfield School
Garfield School
File / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — The Cloquet School District was given the green light to pursue a large-scale renovation project for its outdoor physical education and athletic complex after receiving unanimous board approval at its Monday, Nov. 14, meeting at Garfield School.

The project includes the installation of artificial turf at Sal Bromberg Field, repairs to the track surface and relocation of the tennis courts to include an eight-court tournament setup among other features and updates.

Separate estimates from ARI and Kraus-Anderson Construction Company put the cost of the renovations at about $3.3 million without the inclusion construction fees and soil testing, among other fees.

Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary reported that the high-end estimate is approximately $4.5 million in total for the project.

The topic of athletic complex renovations was first broached at a board meeting last spring, when a community group expressed interest in helping to cover the costs of the installation of artificial turf for the football field through fundraising efforts.

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Additional renovation plans for the track space and tennis courts have since been added in the wake of discussions with the buildings and grounds subcommittee and members of the athletic department.

“One of the pieces that was identified was that our track was nearing the end of its usable life before it needed to be resurfaced,” Cary said. “That was something that (Activities Director) Paul Riess and our track people brought to our recognition. We’ve got about one to three years left on the track.”

The tennis courts face similar issues, according to Cary.

“We have serious cracking and other issues happening across both of the non-playing and playing surfaces now for our tennis courts and those badly need to be either resurfaced or reconstructed,” Cary said.

“According to our activities director, we’ve even had some other varsity programs across the region who won’t come play us. They won’t come to compete against us, because they say we don’t have enough courts, and it makes the travel (time) to and from counterproductive for them,” he said.

Options to cover the cost of the project will be discussed in future meetings, though Cary said he remains hopeful that the project will not require help from taxpayers with the community group spearheading fundraising efforts for the turf field.

“Our goal is, if the community group can fundraise what we’re hoping they’re able to raise, then we could do this project without any ask of taxpayers. That would be the goal,” Cary said. “That’s not guaranteed at this point, but that would be the goal and something we talk about as we go through the process.”

The financial benefits of having a turf field were also discussed at the meeting.

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Just this past month, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team was awarded the No. 1 seed in the Section 7AA tournament, but had to travel and pay to play its home games in Proctor at Egerdahl Field.

“We were the high seed in boys soccer and we had to call Proctor and ask if we could rent their field because those games have to be played on turf,” Riess said ”... We weren’t allowed to play on our own field because we didn’t have turf.”

The added usage during youth athletic tournaments, and the subsequent money spent by visitors to Cloquet at nearby shops and hotels was another benefit mentioned by Cary in moving to a turf field.

The Cloquet School Board will hold its next meeting on Monday, Nov. 28 at Garfield School.

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 17 with a new headline. It was originally posted at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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