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Approval of $3.25 million in improvements to Bettendorf High School athletic facilities is good news to high school principal Jimmy Casas.

 "Obviously we just feel so elated at the opportunity to continue to improve our facilitites and continue to provide the best environment we can for our student athletes," Casas said after the school board approved the expenditure. "We have a lot of pride in everything we do and every time we do school improvements, it brings the community together."

Board members unanimously approved the construction and renovation project at TouVelle Stadium. The upgrade will replace the stadium’s grass field with synthetic turf, reconfigure the eight-lane track and install a new and brighter lighting system. Other projects include a new ticket booth and entry plaza and renovations to the home-side concessions and restrooms.

Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, or PPEL, and the 1 percent local-option sales tax will fund the project.

Construction is slated to begin May 3 and finish by mid-August, just in time for Bettendorf’s first home football game of the 2014 season.

The bid was awarded to Russell Construction of Davenport, which also completed the school’s $16.2 million renovation last spring that added an 840-seat performing arts center, a new entrance, office space, library renovation and a new district administration center.

Bettendorf’s Superintendent Theron Schutte said the school community is looking forward to more improvements to district facilities.

“Coupled with all the other work done in the high school in the recent past, our facilities have seen a significant facelift,” Schutte said. “This is an opportunity to retain the beauty of the existing facility, modernize it and bring it up to speed for the needs of today.”

The $2.8 million second phase of Bettendorf Middle School’s renovation and expansion project also is slated to finish before the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The synthetic turf has been the driving source for the project, which has been in the works for at least five years, high school athletic director Kevin Skillett said.

“It’s a big advantage for schools because it’s much safer and the life expectancy and durability is really good,” he said. “To actually have it all come together in one project is absolutely incredible.”

Many of Iowa’s larger high school stadiums already have turf. Pleasant Valley High School rolled out its artificial turf field in 2010, and Davenport’s Brady Street Stadium first installed AstroTurf in 1998.

Head football coach Aaron Wiley said new turf is something his team has needed for quite some time.

"The ability to practice on rainy days is something we've battled for years so it's going to be nice that we'll have a facility that we can go to on those days," he said. "It's great they decided to pull the trigger and make the move."

Skillett said the boys and girls soccer teams no longer will have to worry about canceled or postponed games because of field conditions.

Besides minor renovations, this project will be the largest reconfiguration TouVelle Stadium has seen since its construction in 1979, Skillett said.

“When people walk through the new entryway, it’s going to look like a completely new stadium,” he said. “We have the expectation that we want the ‘wow factor,’ and I think community members and fans who see the field are going to sense that and be proud of this project.”

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Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.

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