Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 27, 2014

Field turf being installed at historic Ironton field

IRONTON — While Ashland is rebuilding Putnam Stadium, some work is being done on a grand old stadium across the Ohio River, too.

Ironton is putting down field turf on Bob Lutz Field at Tanks Memorial Stadium and it is becoming quite the attraction.

“There’s been a steady stream of people going over,” said Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance. “At times it looks like there’s a ballgame going on.”

The stadium that was constructed in 1926 will have a bright, new look with the splashy green playing surface and bright orange end zones. The $500,000 project is being completed by Pro Grass out of the Pittsburgh area. The closest field to have used Pro Grass is in Chillicothe.

The work is contracted to be finished by the first of August but the company is ahead of schedule, Nance said. “They anticipate having the entire playing surface done by the end of today (Friday).”

The first game on the turf will be Sept. 19 against Ashland. Ironton opens the season Aug. 30 at Wheelersburg.

Money for the field turf came from several fundraising groups including the Turf Group, Friends of Ironton and the Tanks Memorial Stadium Committee (TMSC). Some of the school booster groups have made donations and several other individuals as well. TMSC borrowed $300,000 to pay for it when the job is completed. The group is still seeking donations and is a 501 3(c) organization, making any donation tax deductible.

“I can’t say enough about the support of the community booster groups, the board of education and the company we’re working with,” Nance said. “They weren’t here five minutes before they were asking where they can buy an Ironton hat.”

The school has had to pay for some work being done on the outside of the playing surface, Nance said. “There’s been a lot of work that we’ve had to do to retrofit the field to what we had. The school has taken on those responsibilities.”

The multi-purpose field turf will allow for multiple leves of football, band practice, baseball infield practice when the field may be too wet and even soccer, which Ironton currently does not offer. It will also make Tanks Memorial Stadium more attractive for Ohio football playoff games and soccer playoff games, Nance said.

“They say the more you use it, they better it looks,” he said.

A 10-year warranty comes with the field turf but Nance expects it to last much longer.

“The fiber that we used is the latest stuff out,” he said. “It’s not been out long enough for it to have worn out yet.”

The field doesn’t have the numbers painted or the end zones — one will have IRONTON in black block letters trimmed in white and the other will have Fighting Tigers in cursive. Down the sidelines, off the field, will be Bob Lutz Field. There will also be a 38-foot Tiger at midfield.

All donations are tax-deductible and should be made to the Tanks Memorial Stadium Fund Inc., 807 S. Third St., Ironton, Ohio 45638 or contact any member of the TMSC, school administration, athletic director Mark LaFon or head coach Mark Vass.

Under the coaching of Bob Lutz, the Ironton Tigers claimed state championships in 1979 and 1989, were state runners-up six times and participated in the OHSAA playoffs 24 times in his 34 years of coaching, during which he won 361 games, the most in Ohio high school history.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648. Follow him on Twitter at @dindependent

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