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Why TouVelle Stadium Needs Field Turf!

The following viewpoint is strictly based on the opinion and speculation of one person who is not an employee of the Bettendorf Community School District.  Furthermore, its sole intention is only to suggest why TouVelle Stadium should be upgraded to field turf.

In case you didn’t know it, 2010 marked the 30th season in which the Bettendorf Bulldogs called TouVelle Stadium home… but before we get to that, let’s digress:

A mere two miles from Bettendorf High School in Spartan Land sits Pleasant Valley High School.  The Pleasant Valley Community School District, consisting of over 3,800 students, is a good one that offers a great education for its students who also are able to participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities.  The district encompasses the eastern portion of Bettendorf and runs north along the Mississippi River to include Riverdale, Panorama Park, and LeClaire.

Pleasant Valley High School has over 1,100 students and is fairly competitive in all sports including football where in 1985 the Spartans won the Class 3A title with a 10-7 victory over annual powerhouse Harlan.  In 1987, Pleasant Valley moved up to Class 4A where they have qualified for the playoffs 10 times including a Semifinal appearance in 1990 which, to date, is their furthest advancement in 24 seasons of 4A post-season play.

Spartan Stadium—where football, track, and soccer games are held—is currently undergoing a $2.4 million renovation of which, according to the district’s “Stadium Renovation Project” brochure, “Phase I work on the field is all privately funded and will cost $850,000.”   The school district received quite a generous when a parent—who for two years prior had discussed the matter with the school district—donated $500,000 towards having field turf installed and did so for two main reasons:  (1) The soccer and football fields were in terrible shape and needed a complete overhaul; and (2) He wanted to see both his children as well as countless other children benefit  from the installation of field turf.

Regardless of the reasons or means in which Spartan Stadium will have field turf installed, the bottom line is the athletic facilities at Pleasant Valley High School will be some of the best in both the Quad Cities and the entire state of Iowa.

Now, back to the matter at hand:  TouVelle Stadium.  Built in 1979, the stadium and its surrounding facilities are home to Bettendorf High School football, baseball, softball, and track teams and is one of the state's best athletic facilities.  The stadium seats approximately 6,000 fans and is located in the north section of the high school campus.

Named in honor after Dr. Alwyn TouVelle, a memorial on the walkway leading into the stadium describes Dr. TouVelle as a man "...who for 25 years gave unselfishly his time and energy as team physician for Bettendorf High School.  His devotion to our school and community has served as an inspiration for all to emulate" and was dedicated on September 18, 1981.

The first season in which football games were played at TouVelle Stadium was in 1980 and that year the Bulldogs not only qualified for the Class 4A playoffs for the first time in school history, but also went 11-1 and finished as the state runners-up.  Since that inaugural football season, all the Bulldogs have done (prior to this season) is accumulate a record of 283-55 and win seven (7) Class 4A state titles along with over sixteen (16) other playoff appearances.  As well, the field at TouVelle Stadium has overseen three notable winning streaks:  36 games from 1987-89, 30 games from 1991-93, and 24 games from 2007-2008.  Finally, the stadium has also been home to twelve (12) conference championship teams.

Well, the following five reasons answer that question:

1.  Shouldn’t The Best Have The Best?  It’s a fact that Bettendorf—whether it’s academics or athletics—is clearly one of the best schools in the state of Iowa.  Strictly speaking, the football team is considered a dynasty and owns the most Class 4A state titles of any school.  Comparatively, only Iowa City High and West Des Moines Valley—who both have won 4 titles—have even remotely attained what Bettendorf has achieved.  By that fact alone, the question at hand is rhetorical.

2.  Financially it makes sense.  Yes, of course, there is the obvious initial cost of installing field turf—let’s just say roughly $750,000—but the end-product will be worth it.  I won’t get as detailed as some turf versus grass analyses have been, but annually while approximately $50,00 will be spent on grass maintenance, only (about) $5,000 will be need for field turf.  Now, if you do the math for a 10-year period and also consider the time that won’t be spent by a maintenance crew mowing, repairing, and striping the field—while the cost of grass versus turf is about the same, because the turf is the better product, it’s a no-brainer.

3.  It’s Safer.  Two independent football safety studies—one conducted over a 3-year period for colleges and the other for high schools over 5 years—determined that there are fewer incidences, causes, and severity of injuries on field turf compared to grass.  For example, in the college study, it was found that there were 74% less muscle tears, 42% lower ACL trauma, and 12% less concussions while the high school report concluded 55% fewer neural injuries and 47% less cranial/cervical injuries.  In the end, isn’t it about what’s best for kids?

4.  All-Weather = All-Better!  For starters, scheduled games will not run the risk of being cancelled due to wet weather and on that same note, over the course of the football season, the team will both enjoy and benefit from playing on a field that isn’t torn up by wet weather.  As well, the all-weather surface allows other programs such as band to practice daily and field turf also reduces the cleaning and damage done to uniforms incurred by a grass surface.

5.  Everybody’s Doing It!  Generally speaking, this phrase should never hold any water but in this case it’s truly an exception as based on data.  Currently, 21 of 32 NFL teams and over 100 NCAA Division I colleges either practice or play on field turf.  Even more astonishing then that number is the fact that over 1,000 high school teams and over 500 municipal and recreational football fields have it!  Face it:  field turf is the 21st century so let’s get modern!

BONUS REASON:  It just looks better!  Hey, when it comes down to it, field turf just looks better. 'Nuff said!

Ok, so now that it’s clear that TouVelle Stadium and those who use it will significantly benefit from the installation of field turf, how is this idea going to become a reality?  Well, while it’s obvious that field turf has drastic benefits versus grass, our economy is currently in a financial recession—one that has greatly affected Iowa schools—so at this point in time field turf would be a luxury as opposed to a necessity for the school to install.

But if the Pleasant Valley Spartans can have their field privately funded, why can’t the Bettendorf Bulldogs?

Bulldog fans, alumni, and patrons… let’s get it going!!!  If every former Bulldog who ever stepped foot on the football field—be it for a sport or activity—contributed a mere $100, field turf in TouVelle Stadium would be a reality.  Of course there will those who give more and other less, but a cause like this is easily attainable if Bulldog Nation unites.

Again, shouldn’t the best have the best?




American Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Complete History of Bettendorf Football:  1951-Present by John W. Elkin.

“Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Game-Related College Football Injuries on FieldTurf Versus Natural Grass (A 3-Year Prospective Study)” by Michael C. Meyers, PhD, FACSM.

“Incidence, Causes, and Severity of High School Football Injuries on FieldTurf Versus Natural Grass (A 5-Year Prospective Study)” by Michael C. Meyers, PhD, FACSM, and Bill S. Barnhill, MD.

“Outside The Lines” ESPN feature on field turf.

Pleasant Valley Spartans – Stadium Renovation Project brochure,