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Poor conditions force THHS to stop use of Halsted Field for the year

A Two Harbors football player stands on Halsted Field. The Two Harbors athletic department made the decision to discontinue use of the field for the remainder of 2018 following the Agates 14-0 homecoming win over International Falls on Friday, Oct. 5. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)

Two Harbors High School is scrambling to reschedule its remaining fall home games following a decision to discontinue use of Halsted Field for the remainder of 2018.

Activities Director Scott Ross said the decision was made after the condition of the turf deteriorated during the Agates’ 14-0 homecoming win over International Falls on Friday, Oct. 5. The Agates scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half, but as field conditions deteriorated in the rain, neither offense was able to move the ball consistently.

The field wasn’t in great shape prior to the game, but as the game continued, athletes were sinking and slipping in the mud on almost every play. The field was a swampy mess by the third quarter and players had trouble handling the ball or keeping their footing in the second half.

“We had a feeling about it this last week, especially with the rain Friday,” Ross said. “Once you start losing it, it goes fast. It’s not just losing the grass — it’s the mud.”

Two Harbors had at least four more varsity events scheduled at Halsted Field, but two of those, boys’ and girls varsity soccer games scheduled for Monday, Oct. 8, were canceled because of continued rain. The athletic department continues to search for alternate venues for a home girls soccer playoff game Thursday, Oct. 11, and a home playoff game in approximately two weeks.

Ross said two ninth-grade football games were also scheduled at Halstead Field, but were changed to away games.

Halstead Field has received more use this season with the return of boys varsity soccer to the schedule, but wet weather has played a bigger part in the problems. It’s a constant challenge to keep a natural grass field in playing condition as summer turns to fall on the North Shore.

Two years ago, the school needed North Harbor Services to repack the field turf in advance of a playoff game against International Falls. Ross said they considered discontinuing use of the field in 2016 as well, but were able to get in the final home game — a 55-7 Agate win.

Ross noted the best solution to Two Harbors’ field condition problems is probably the installation of a turf surface. Four years ago, Superior High School built the NBC Spartan Complex, which included multiple turf fields at a cost of at least $4 million.

Proctor High School also converted its athletic complex, which includes multiple fields, to turf for the 2018-19 school year, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, according to Proctor Activities Director Dan Stauber. The turf conversion was part of a larger, more than $10 million referendum-funded construction project at the school’s athletic complex, dubbed the St. Luke’s Proctor Sports and Event Center.

Ross said the costs at Two Harbors would be less than the projects at Proctor and Superior because there would just be one field resurfaced and little or no new construction.

The Two Harbors athletic department has requested a cost estimate to install turf at Halsted Field, but Ross said he has not any cost estimates yet.