The St. Charles boys' soccer team has qualified for a home playoff game in two of the last three years. But each time, they weren’t allowed to play the game at home. They were forced to go to Dover-Eyota and use the turf field there because St. Charles’ field was always covered in mud.
That isn’t going to happen ever again.
St. Charles is in the process of installing a new turf field that will bring plenty of flexibility to a ton of athletic programs moving forward. The plan is for all the work to be done before the school year starts up again in August.
“We tried to improve our drainage, we tried to add dirt and grass, but the board got to the point where we decided instead of pouring money into this, let’s find a long-term solution,” St. Charles activities director Scott McCready said. “It’s just a smarter long-term plan. Just to be clear: The turf was not part of our recently passed referendum. The turf was in the works prior to that.”
But the turf field will come with a little twist. St. Charles’ varsity football games will not be played on it. The Minnesota State High School League awards state quarterfinal football games only to sites that have turf fields, but McCready said St. Charles wouldn't be a viable option even if it had installed turf on its football field.
“There’s no way we could handle a football crowd from an infrastructure point of view,” McCready said. “We don’t have parking, we don’t have traffic accessibility for cars, people or concessions. That’s a huge thing for football. It’s going to be marked for football. It’ll have goalposts on it and soccer goals. Football might practice up there sometimes. We could do a lower-level game up there if the weather dictates that. It’s going to be a multi-use surface and we’ll use it a lot. But our primary football field will stay the same.”
The turf field will give St. Charles an unquestioned amount of flexibility. It can maintain its regular football field better if the varsity squad practices on the turf. During the spring, baseball and softball teams can get out on the turf earlier to practice. Track and field meets will be a lot easier to manage because no one will be dragging equipment through wet, muddy grass.
“We’re really excited,” McCready said. “After talking to our neighbors in the area who have turf, it can be noon in the fall and raining all morning, but the moment the rain stops, you can go out and practice that afternoon with no issues. We had multiple days this spring that were warm and sunny but the snow hadn’t melted. Well, we probably would’ve been able to get out there on the turf and throw the ball around.”
The Saints' soccer teams won’t have to worry about playing on someone else’s field after earning a home playoff game anymore, either. They have their field now.
“The soccer players are certainly excited,” McCready said. “But it’s good for our community too. We know that our community will use it. Our city recreation department will use it. Every space we have at the school is shared with the community and that will continue to be the case.”