Joplin School Board approves upgrades to high school baseball field, tennis courts

Apr. 29—The baseball field and tennis courts at Joplin High School will soon be upgraded following the Board of Education's recent approval of nearly $763,000 in renovation projects.

Board members approved a $689,000 proposal from Mid America Sports Construction to replace the artificial turf on the baseball field. The project includes $650,000 for the installation of new artificial turf, $17,500 for the full replacement of existing nailer board and $21,500 for the construction of a permanent concrete pitchers mound.

The current artificial turf at the baseball field has been in place since 2014 and has "experienced normal issues due to fiber degradation such as loss of infill and seam damage," administrators said.

"On our current field, if you sit in the press box, you may not notice it because, aesthetically, I believe it's still very pleasing," athletics director Matt Hiatt told the board at a recent meeting. "But the thing with artificial turf is that as the fibers start to degrade through sunlight and normal wear, you lose the rubber infill, you lose the sand infill and it becomes very hard. We are starting to see a lot of that."

Administrators said they are shifting to turf replacement of various fields at the high school on a yearly basis, and their independent field testing contractor, Midwest GMAX, has recommended the baseball field be the next replacement project at the end of the 2023 season. Turf replacement already has been accomplished in recent years at Junge Stadium and at the JHS softball field.

Abigail Eckert, a Joplin High School student and the board's student adviser, said she has friends who play softball on the field that was upgraded last year.

"They've been telling me how they love the new turf, how it's resurfaced," she said. "I think it's a great idea (to replace the turf on the baseball field), and I think it's definitely time."

Board members also approved a $73,948.52 proposal from McConnell and Associates to resurface the eight tennis courts at JHS. The project includes $63,575 for court resurfacing, $7,119 for recaulking around the perimeter of the courts, $790 for the replacement of post caps, $1,768 to replace the nets and $732.52 to equal 1% of the total cost for a labor and performance bond.

As with the baseball field, the tennis courts have been in use since 2014 and are used regularly by the boys and girls tennis teams and by physical education classes, administrators said.

"The importance of the surface is not only the playability for our tennis student athletes, but we want to make sure we do a good job of protecting our concrete, sealing any cracks and such as that to protect the longevity of the court," Hiatt said. "It's time, in our opinion, to make an investment to protect those courts and ensure the longevity of them and the playability of them."

Both projects were passed by the board unanimously.