The Ashland School District’s groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of Walter A. Phillips Field will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the field on the Ashland High School campus.
The 30-minute ceremony will celebrate the start of the estimated $1.56 million project, which will include replacing the grass field with a synthetic turf stuffed with organic infill, widening the field to 65 yards for soccer and replacing the stadium lights. The event is open to the public.
Representatives of the school district, the high school, funding partner Lithia Motors, the Ashland Schools Foundation and Hellas Construction will be on hand and make brief speeches before the countdown to the ceremonial turning of the turf.
Ashland High alum and longtime Major League Baseball pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who kicked off the fundraising campaign with a $650,000 donation, is not expected to attend the ceremony, but he will be represented by retired athletic director and football coach Jim Nagel.
The field will be the first in Oregon made with Hellas Construction’s Geo Plus infill, which consists of ground-up cork, coconut fiber and rice fiber.
“The school board is so pleased that the community has responded so generously and created this wonderful outcome for our kids,” Ashland school board and turf committee member John Williams said through an Ashland Schools Foundation press release sent out to media members Wednesday. “We are all looking forward to seeing our students playing on the new field this fall.”
The renovation is expected to be completed in time for Ashland High School’s fall sports season. The varsity boys soccer team is scheduled to host Bend on Sept. 1 and the varsity football team hosts Klamath Union the following day.
“This project is a significant step forward for all of the students at Ashland High School,” AHS athletic director Karl Kemper said in the release, “including our P.E. program as well as our football and soccer teams. It’s a great day to be a Grizz.”
Contributions are still being accepted for a few projects related to the field at: Ashland Schools Foundation, Turf Field Project, 100 Walker Ave, Ashland OR 97520. Donors can also make contributions online at https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst="ae5c19".
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.