Friday Night Lights in Clay Center Could be Changing

The Clay Center Rotary Club had their monthly meeting today and the topic of discussion was all about the new stadium where USD 379 Brett Nelson gave the run down and updated information on the project.

Nelson stated that this project started about a year and a half ago when community members, teachers, coaches, and some students brought up their concerns as to why Clay Center doesn’t have a stadium and turf like other USD’s.  And because others in the community started hearing the same things, it was suggested that the money could be raised to make these dreams become a reality.

The budget was created by professional estimates on what it would cost to accomplish such a task occurred and the committee stated that they were ready to go through with the project, but wanted a commitment with the school district and that they would match some of the funds to get the stadium done, and with a vote of 7 to 0, the project was supported by the committee to match those funds.  But unless those funds that were committed are raised privately, the dreams will be put on the back burner.

So why can’t turf be installed at Unruh Stadium?  Nelson states that where the field is now, the students can’t use it every day.

Nelson further goes on and states that if you were to eliminate all the other “why’s”, and you’re going to spend that money already, why wouldn’t you spend that money where the kids and staff could use it every day.

If you were to take the cost it would take to match the same project at the already built stadium, it would cost three and a half million instead of the two million to build the new stadium with the turf.

Unruh stadium would need significant upgrades too.

As far as the ADA, when the estimates were done, with it being a concrete facility, Nelson says that with one cut into the stadium, they would have to make the entire stadium to ADA compliance.

With the questions murmuring around as to why the school district is paying so much money for a new stadium and turf, they completed a three-year audit as to what it currently takes to maintain the grass fields at Unruh Stadium, the grass fields inside the track behind the high school, and current practice field.  They found that they currently spend about $66,000 a year for those fields alone, for grass seed, fertilizer and regular maintenance and over the next 10 years, that will cost the school district $750,000.

The average life span of turf is anywhere between 10 and 13 years and when it needs to be replaced, it will cost significantly less to be able to replace the turf that is already laying and that money can be allocated somewhere else in the school district.

USD 379 would like to install the turf during the fall football season because it will be considerably cheaper since all the other schools wanted their fields done before the season began.

Parking has been another topic of discussion regarding this stadium. At Unruh stadium people park at Hutch and Mayrath as well as Campbell field, the only district owned designated parking area.  And currently, there are only about 330 designated stalls available, with only 65 actually owned by the district.

At the high school, the softball parking lot, there’s already more designated parking with 387 parking stalls, and if they needed over flow parking, the grass lot is available, which brings them to roughly 600 parking spots.

Further, there will be a pedestrian link from the stadium to the school for easier access to the facility.  And according to Nelson, they would have the construction tech class build the concession and restroom facilities instead of their normal tiger house.

Any additional funds that are raised will go towards the extras, like LED lights.

Through their fundraiser they are giving the opportunity for individuals and business the naming rights on the facilities.  This includes custom signage installed at a particular location that is being sponsored.  They are also planning to recognize large donations on the Tiger Legacy Wall  near the concession stand.

The students that were in attendance to this meeting all supported the new stadium and the turf installation.  Brody Hays stated that he would rather play on turf rather than grass and that Friday nights would be “really awesome”.

And with only 5 home games in a general season, resident’s on 12th street won’t see too much more traffic than they already do.  Nelson stated that the roads are already wide enough and can handle a lot of traffic, and since the parking availability has already been addressed, they will just have to limit the parking on the side of the roads.

If you would like more information and updates for the new Tiger Multi-Purpose Turf Stadium Project, visit


Janet Schnell covers state and local news for KFRM and KCLY. You can follow the KCLY or KFRM Facebook page for more stories.

KFRM covers news from across the state of Kansas, the Northern part of Oklahoma, and Southern part of Nebraska.

KCLY coverage area includes the nine counties of Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Geary, Marshall, Ottawa, Riley, Republic, and Washington.

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