If you've driven past Stow-Munroe Falls High School in recent weeks, you've seen the machinery and workers busy in the stadium.
Now's your chance to see all the improvements up close.
BEST of Stow -- Benefiting Everyone with Stadium Turf -- and the Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs invite the community to a "Sneak Peek" of the high school stadium Aug. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon.
Attendees will be able to take a look at the new entrance and new state-of-the-art artificial playing surface, which is being installed this summer. The work began on June 25.
More than $600,000 was raised by BEST since its inception to pay to install the artificial turf and other stadium updates. The district contracted for about $104,000 for drainage and asphalt work, the majority of that coming from funds from the district's Coca-Cola contract (see story on Page 39).
"The biggest benefits [of the new field] are no more mud, sustainability and safety," according to John Prusa, one of the founders of BEST for Stow, the organization that raised funds for the resurfacing in the stadium's field and track.
"[The artificial turf] is a much safer and softer surface in the field," Prusa said. "And it can be used no matter what the weather is."
With a new turf field, Prusa said bands and sports teams will no longer have to play over either a rock-hard field, or in shin-deep mud, depending on the weather.
Prusa said the new field will also allow for spring practice and night games. The field will also be able to welcome not only football and soccer games and practices, but also field hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and softball.
"We hope to have the project wrapped up in time for the first football game [on Aug. 24 against Canton Hoover]" he added.
Cyle Feldman, SMFHS athletic director, told the Stow Sentry that in the event the field is not ready to go, he has contingency plans in place. The first game, against Canton Hoover, would be played on a Thursday night, Aug. 23, at the Kent State University; the second scheduled home game, against Kent Roosevelt, would be on its scheduled date of Aug. 31 at the University of Akron.
A decision on the games' locations will be made the week before, Feldman noted.
This year the Bulldogs have six home games scheduled, Feldman said -- four out of the first five will be at home.
"We feel pretty good" about the work staying on track, he said, adding that due to the recent weather, the project is now about 1 1/2 weeks ahead of schedule.
Prusa said the excavation and preparation of the stadium for the new field is being done by Vasco of Massillon. A-Turf of Buffalo, New York, is installing the new field.
Along with residents, Prusa said the Stow-Munroe Falls Booster Club, the Marhofer family, Tallmadge Asphalt and Highpoint Lawn Service in Stow -- Prusa's company -- also contributed to the project with donations.
Booster Club and BEST representatives will be present to answer questions and provide information.
A stadium cleanup day is also planned for Aug. 18, beginning at 9 a.m. Everyone is invited to give a hand in some landscaping, painting and sprucing up of the facility.
Prusa said the next project would be to resurface the track but funds are still needed.
Those still interested in making donations can go to http://www.bestforstow.com. BEST is a 501(c) (3) entity and donations are tax deductible.
Prusa added there is still room left for those interested in becoming "Pillars of the Community" (for donations of $6,000 and above), or getting their names on the new wall (for donations of $500 and above).
"The community should be very proud -- we've done this on the backs of businesses and parents and community members [who donated]," Prusa said.
Feldman echoed those thoughts. "We're extremely excited about having this facility," he said. "It's a multi-purpose facility we are going to put to use."