LEONARDTOWN, Md. — After a few months of waiting, Leonardtown High School started construction on their new turf field on Nov. 29.

For those who do not know, the St. Mary’s County Board of Education approved a $300,00 contract with Athletic Field Consultants of Queenstown to design artificial turf fields at Chopticon, Great Mills, and Leonardtown High School on Aug. 11, 2021.

SMCPS Superintendent Scott Smith mentioned that turf fields would be here for the 2021-2022 school year. He even looked to set aside more funds to complete this project sooner.

With urgency, the board was looking to minimize funds by constructing these fields simultaneously, so if Leonardtown has begun, one might not expect it to be much longer before Chopticon and Great Mills follow suit.

Additionally, Leonardtown High School’s turf field construction marks a turning point in Southern Maryland. This effort has given some Calvert County citizens additional leverage when seeking turf fields at their schools.

“With St. Mary’s County getting turf, I just felt like it was time to make a push. We have great athletic teams in Calvert County. We have won many state championships. We have won many regional titles,” Keith Powell, athletic director of Patuxent High School said. This statement was before Northern High School won their first state football title in their division last month.

As mentioned previously reported, many schools want turf fields because of their return on investment. Although they are costly at first, turf fields take less maintenance and cost less.

“Turf fields, while they are costly upfront, provide a much greater value over the long term. Maintenance of turf fields is much less than natural grass fields and the number of hours that can be scheduled on a turf field exceeds that of natural grass. This makes the cost per hour of usage for turf fields much lower,” a citizen said in a petition for Calvert County to get turf fields.

Even though turf fields can be seen as an investment, some people have criticized the move, saying schools should worry about more important things.

“Schools need heating and air that works and other things,” one citizen said in a comment on Leonardtown High School’s parent page.

However, with many Southern Maryland sports teams winning championships and benefiting from it, it’s a tough argument for Southern Maryland schools to consider.

Contact Tony and the rest of our news desk at news@thebaynet.com