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Plant High getting artificial turf (updated)

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Tue. June 22, 2010 | Joey Knight | Email

Plant High's football field, like its trophy case, soon will be the envy of Hillsborough County.

Panthers coach Robert Weiner and principal Rob Nelson confirmed Tuesday that a synthetic turf with the look and feel of natural grass is being installed at Dad's Stadium. The price tag is around $600,000. Nelson said it's being financed exclusively with private money.

"We're in a unique situation because we're so landlocked," Nelson said. 

"Our (physical education) classes and all that, that field gets so much use, it's torn up by the time you get to soccer and flag football and everything else. ... It's not a luxury, though I know some people will feel that way."

The surface is being installed by 1st Turf, a Tampa-based company that also has installed the surfaces used at Oklahoma State, Colorado and two private Miami prep schools.

Plant, winner of state titles in three of the last four seasons, will become the first public school in the bay area to have such a surface.

Jesuit High's Alumni Field has FieldTurf, a similar surface installed in 2007. Former Tigers athletic director John Crumbley said it was his understanding the cost for that project exceeded $800,000.

To this point, Plant -- which has no bona fide football practice field -- has been forced to work out on the adjacent baseball field or at Dad's Stadium.

The wear on the field, worsened by the fact both Panthers soccer teams and the school band also practice and perform on the field, typically renders it a sprawling patch of dirt by the end of the school year.

"We've been raising money in our community over the last year," Nelson said. "We hope to make a couple more improvements in the next couple of years but this is the first phase."

Weiner didn't immediately respond to a phone message. 

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