The recent lack of rain has meant brown spots in some Loudoun County lawns, but the fields at Stone Bridge and Park View high schools stand out in a perfect kelly green.
After 15 years of almost constant fundraisers, the Stone Bridge Athletic Boosters Club will formally unveil the school’s pristine artificial turf field, encircled by a new track, Friday. A dedication ceremony is planned during half time of the Bulldogs- Highlanders football game.
Park View High School, in Sterling, dedicated its new turf field a week earlier. That project was made possible through a partnership between the Washington Redskins and the National Football League—which donated $200,000 of the cost—and the county government, which covered the remaining $800,000.
The new fields are part of an effort in recent years by school and county leaders to renovate the athletic facilities at Loudoun’s oldest high schools. Stone Bridge and Park View are two of four schools to have the new fields installed years after opening.
Park View opened in 1976, and Stone Bridge opened in Ashburn in 2000, 10 years before Loudon County made artificial turf standard for all new high schools.
Last summer, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors agreed to kick in about $750,000 for the field at Stone Bridge, adding to the funds the boosters club raised, which was enough to leverage a $250,000 loan.
Although the group brings in almost $160,000 a year, the boosters club’s former president, Craig Ridley, said that when it didn’t look hopeful that any private or public entity would help make up the difference to pay for a $1 million-plus artificial turf field, the club instead paid for other improvements to the school’s athletic facilities, including the installation of a $40,000 video message score board.
Ralph Young, president of the club, encouraged parents and students of the Ashburn school to keep an eye out for upcoming fundraisers.
“We will need the continued support of the Stone Bridge community to pay back that loan,” Young said.
Tuscarora and Woodgrove were the first Loudoun schools to be outfitted with synthetic grass fields when they opened in 2010, followed by John Champe in 2012, Rock Ridge in 2014 and Riverside, which opened Monday.
Then the Loudoun County School Board agreed to upgrade the stadiums at the county’s oldest schools. New fields have since been installed at the 52-year-old Loudoun Valley High School and the 61-year-old Loudoun County High School. Next in line is 46-year-old Broad Run, where renovations are underway.
Board members say artificial turf saves money in the long run because it doesn’t require water or as much maintenance.
Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), who helped secure county money for the Stone Bridge project, has said that the Board of Supervisors’ funding partnership with the school—where the community helps cover a portion of the cost—could be a model for the five high schools that are still without the synthetic grass.
Athletes at Dominion, Briar Woods, Heritage, Freedom and Potomac Falls high schools still practice and play on grass fields.