Fundraising Spotlight: The SABC Turf and Track Project

Soccer Field in DisrepairIn Southern California, one high school booster club has taken on an ambitious task. The Scorpion Athletic Booster Club (SABC) in Camarillo began fundraising this fall for their Turf Field Project, a $1.7 million plan to install artificial turf on the Camarillo High School athletic field and resurface the track.

The center of the field has been worn through by years of games and practices, and students even complain that the dirt patches are dangerous.

The SABC acknowledges that the school district should be paying for the a turf field for the school, but doesn’t have the funds to take on the task.

“If we want something better for our kids, we have a choice: We can complain till we’re blue in the face, or we can make it happen ourselves,” reads the club’s proposal. “We have an opportunity to make history here. We have a chance do something positive for our school, our kids, and our community. Together, we can all leave a legacy that will stand for a long time”

While not alone in the scope of their donation, the SABC is one of a small number of booster clubs that have taken on projects of such size. As funding for extracurriculars becomes increasingly limited, some booster clubs have rallied together to answer students’ needs on a larger scale, completing big projects like installing swimming pools and resurfacing athletic fields. Over the next few months, Boosterland will follow the progress of the SABC Turf Field Project, learning from the club’s planning and experiences.

First Steps: Board approval and legal groundwork

Even before the plan received school board approval in October, club members spent two years preparing their proposal. SABC members first had to investigate and consider several factors, including safety, pricing, and legal feasibility.

Safety: School board members demanded thorough investigation into the safety of artificial turf fields, and SABC did their due diligence. After consulting numerous peer-reviewed studies, SABC members were confident that an artificial turf field would be preferable to the existing surface, which put student athletes at an unsafe risk of injury.

Pricing: SABC investigated four different turf manufacturers in-depth before making any decisions. The process included numerous site visits to turf fields of varying ages and manufacture, including one high school who had the exact field the SABC hoped to install. SABC officers also consulted several municipal and school athletic directors and facilities directors who had experience with specific manufacturers, experience maintaining fields from different manufacturers, and who had experienced problems with their turf fields. Ultimately, one manufacturer stood out from the crowd, with the ability to complete the job start to finish, no reported problems, and the lowest preliminary quote of all general contractors consulted.

Legal Feasibility: The school engaged the services of a lawyer, who helped them understand their options for the project. The lawyer found the SABC could complete the project independent of the school board if they executed a lease-back with the board for the extent of the project. The club would own the field, but the students and board would still have full use of it until the project was complete, at which point the the field would be gifted back to the school.

When the project finally received full school board approval in October, the club had to hit the ground running to raise the $1.7 million needed. In our next installment, we’ll explore the Scorpion Athletic Booster Club’s fundraising efforts, including the plan to “sell” the Camarillo High School athletic field to donors by the yard. Have specific questions? Share them in the comments and we’ll address them the next post.


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