FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 board of directors voted on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to allow the Mt. Blue High School All Sports Boosters Turf Committee to begin fundraising the naming rights for a proposed athletic complex at Mt. Blue Campus as it relates to the ongoing capital fundraising campaign to replace the grass surface on Caldwell Field with synthetic turf.

The boosters had originally proposed the idea of updating Caldwell Field with artificial turf to help with drainage and reduce the chance of injury in July of last year. According to Boosters President Mike Bolduc, the current condition of the field only makes it available for play three months out of the year and upgrading to synthetic turf would open that availability up to nine months out of the year.

“It’s roped off all summer to try and preserve it and repair it for fall sports,” Bolduc stated at that meeting. The boosters asked for the board’s blessing to continue with their research and fundraising endeavors.

Superintendent Christian Elkington opened the discussion at the recent board of director’s meeting by stating that a formal vote was needed in order to allow the boosters to begin fundraising. The fundraiser will include the naming rights of the athletic complex in recognition of support for the project with a contribution of at least 50% of the total project costs, which is estimated by the boosters to be roughly $800,000.

The campaign would also include the naming rights for:

• The placement and display of a named party at the scoreboard for 25 years [$250,000].


• The placement and display of a named party at the press box for 20 years [$100,000].

• The placement and display of a named party at the Cougar Den for 20 years [$100,000].

• The placement and display of a named party banner located on the fence area surrounding Caldwell field for 10 years [$20,000].

• The placement and display of a named party banner located on the fence area surrounding the tennis court fencing adjacent to Caldwell Field for 10 years [$10,000].

• The placement and display of benches for ten years [$7,500].

• The placement and display of paving bricks [$250].


At the meeting, several concerns over potential health risks and future costs of synthetic fields were raised by several board members. Director J. Jeffrey Barnum of New Vineyard raised several questions over the potential costs of replacing the synthetic fields. The potential health risks, such as PFAS, were mentioned among several concerning factors.

“I think it’s important that any potential funders understand exactly what’s being used,” Barnum said. “Because if I happen to have an extra $400,000 that I want to put into a sports field, I would want to be absolutely positive that there was no downside to that field [and] that I was not going to adversely affect any human health or environmental integrity.”

Director Janice David of Farmington followed Barnum by asking to hear from disinterested parties to get a better scope of the project as a whole. “I don’t want to just hear from the boosters about how wonderful this idea is,” she said. “I want to hear from a disinterested party and do an analysis of the whole project.”

The boosters complied data on the current cost of maintaining Caldwell Field and estimated its current cost to be roughly $57,607. While no exact amount of estimated savings on field maintenance could be presented at this meeting, Elkington shared that several of his colleagues from other districts have estimated roughly a 50% savings in maintenance costs.

The boosters also shared the current amount of time Caldwell Field is being utilized among the different sports programs at MBHS and found the field had seen an estimated 163.5 hours of use. By switching to synthetic turf, the boosters estimate an increase of 500 hours, as Caldwell Field is currently not used for practice in order to preserve the integrity of the field for competition.

Director Scott Erb made a motion to allow the boosters to begin fundraising for the field. It is important to note that no plans to purchase or install synthetic turf have been made by the school and the boosters’ proposed plans are subject to change as more information comes to light.


A representative of the boosters stated at the meeting that they have only contacted an engineering firm for estimates on the proposed athletic complex and they had not spoken with a synthetic turf manufacturer yet.

The representative added that it was the boosters intent to raise the money for RSU 9, leaving the details of construction and installation to the school.

Several directors, including David and Barnum, voiced their concern over having the boosters raise money for a project that is not clearly defined or set in stone on the school’s part.

“I really believe that while we can always find we need more information,” Erb told the board, “I think this is a situation where it would be good for the community and good for the school to just say we’re going to move forward and join with what other people in our conference and in the state are doing, because that’s what will make sure our students aren’t disadvantaged [against other teams].”

The board voted for the fundraising project to begin, with David, Barnum, Director Debbie Smith of Weld, and Director Greg Kimber of Temple voting against the motion.

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