Triton considers turf football field, with $580,000 donation

DODGE CENTER — When the Triton football team kicks off its season this fall, it could be doing so on a brand new turf field, thanks to a donation from what's being described as "a very good corporate citizen."

Triton could become just the third high school in southeast Minnesota to install turf, joining Kasson-Mantorville and Winona. The expensive undertaking was initiated after McNeilus Steel Inc., recently offered the district $400,000 to upgrade its athletic facilities.

After the school board discussed the pros and cons of such an endeavor, McNeilus upped the ante on Feb. 14 by adding another $180,000 to its donation, according to Triton Superintendent Brett Joyce.

That $580,000 would cover most of the $842,000 project to install turf on the entire surface inside the school's track. The turf would be used for football and soccer games and physical education classes. Softball games could be played on the surface in a pinch, and baseball could also use it for a practice facility.

"It was spurred by the donation (but) $260,000 is still a lot for the district, and that's why the board faces a difficult decision," Joyce said of the ongoing discussion. "We're very fortunate to have someone step up in our community."


McNeilus has made similar donations in the past. The local business has helped fund upgrades to Triton's baseball, softball and football fields, Joyce said. It also gave the district $100,000 for the current school year to help fund the iPad initiative.

The turnaround on Triton's decision could be quick. Joyce has set the district's deadline to approve the turf renovations for March 10. If the school board green lights the project, construction will begin almost immediately, with the idea that it will be ready for action by August.

"I think they're really diligently discussing (the idea)," Joyce said. "We've had a really good discussion on the pros and cons. As a team, we're trying to get as much information as we can about this.

"There's a lot of positives for it. You know as well as I do, in this climate the surfaces change. When the ground freezes in the fall, our field is like playing on a road. If you can keep student athletes safer and healthier, everyone's happier."

Triton is a traditional football powerhouse that won Class AA state titles in 1994, 2000 and 2006. It also finished second in 2010.

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