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Dragons to get new turf gridiron

CLINTON TOWNSHIP – The Clintondale Community School District Board of Education voted last month to move forward on opening bids for a $5.2 million project to make repairs and upgrades to buildings and grounds throughout the district.

Part of the project is to replace the athletic track and install synthetic turf to Bill Apisa Field at Don Seiferlein Stadium. The total construction cost to update the outdoor athletic facility is estimated at $1.68 million.

For board trustee and alumnus Jim Potter, seeing the transformation coming soon to Clintondale’s grass gridiron has been a longtime goal. A two-year starter and letter winner in high school, Potter – who graduated in 1981 – was offered an athletic scholarship to play football at Michigan State University.

“When I went to Michigan State on scholarship to continue playing football, it was my dream to come back one day and make the facilities the best in Macomb County, and to attract student-athletes from all over,” Potter said. “To me this was a very important and personal step to upgrading the facilities and make the next generation of student-athletes proud to be Dragons.”

From 1957-61, the Dragons played their home football games between Memorial Stadium in Mt. Clemens and Wolf Road Junior High, which was located at the northeast corner of 15 Mile and Gratiot Avenue. Since Oct. 13, 1962, the Dragons have played all of their home games behind the high school at Don Seiferlien Stadium.

Construction could begin as early as next spring, but a start date for the projects has yet to be determined. If all goes according to plan, the field could be ready for the Dragons’ 2023 fall football season.

The field project will also include new lighting, selected fencing will be replaced, and an ADA-compliant ramp will be added to the grandstands. The improvements will modernize and give a new look to the athletics facilities, which also serve Clintondale Middle School teams. Officials say the new field will also be available for community use and will accommodate a variety of youth sports, including football, lacrosse, and soccer. Field rentals can become a revenue source for the district. Moreover, Clintondale can provide K-12 students with an all-weather, synthetic turf field for its physical education classes.

“This new field will be a multi-functional field where teams will be able to practice and play in all weather conditions to give us an advantage over our competitors,” Potter said. “Also, we will be upgrading the stands to allow for wheelchair accessibility and fixing and upgrading the surrounding fences. But this is only the beginning. We have future plans to continue upgrades on our facilities.”

One benefit of a turf field is that it costs less to maintain than natural grass, as Clintondale spends an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 annually to maintain its existing grass field, which includes fertilizer, field paint, regular mowing, and applying other treatments.

Football coach Dave Schindler said other advantages to the new turf will mean increased playing time and fewer games and practices postponed. The field turf also doesn’t require pesticide treatments and will require less setup time for games and special events, like senior commencement ceremonies.

“The turf field is going to be a game changer,” Schindler said. “We will never have to worry about playing in the mud again. The turf will let our athletes display their talents and not be slowed down by the weather conditions.

“We also will be able to practice on a great field. In the past, we practiced on a water-filled muddy field trying to get ready for a playoff game. Student-athletes will see the beautiful field and want to be a Dragon. We will be able to add to our success with a turf field; an elite field for an elite program.”

Among the other plans the district has to in coming months, is repairing the roof at the middle school, and replacing the parking lot and perimeter fencing at McGlinnen Elementary and Rainbow Elementary.