Big donation on track

Depending on how the bidding process goes over the next two weeks, Douglas High's fall sports teams may be playing on an entirely new surface next year.

Douglas may install Field Turf, a type of artificial grass used at Nevada's Mackay Stadium and Peccole Park and WNCC's John L. Harvey Field, on Keith "Duke" Roman Field this summer, if the cost for the long-anticipated all-weather track comes in around $420,000.

The Douglas County School District board of trustees unanimously accepted a $1 million donation from Minden-based Big George Ventures Thursday afternoon in a short meeting attended mostly by Douglas High coaches.

"Whatever happens, I think we'll have one of the nicest facilities in the state, possibly on the West Coast," Douglas athletic director Jeff Evans said. "We're extremely grateful to Big George Ventures for this very generous donation.

"If we seem a little off-center, it's simply because we've never done anything like this before," school board member Sharla Hales told Big George project manager Robbe Lehmann at the meeting. "We are very excited. We are thrilled for the community and the school and the students. Thank you."

As part of the donation, Douglas will name the complex after Big George Ventures, although the football field will remain named after Keith Roman.

Big George Ventures owner Raymond Sidney and Lehmann approached the high school in December about making a donation to the track project.

Sidney became a millionaire while working as a software engineer for Google before moving to the area. He bought a 100-acre parcel of BLM land at the north end of Douglas County to develop approximately 300 eco-friendly homes.

What remains to be seen is how exactly the money is going to be used.

What is assured is that work on the all-weather track project will begin in mid-March. A planned expansion of the press box to about three times its current size, state-of-the-art track & field equipment, a storage shed for the new equipment and asphalt or landscaping around the track's perimeter are the most-likely additions to the project.

The school has raised approximately $120,000 for the track project and the school district has committed $300,000 as well.

Bidding for both a new track and field turf will be determined over the next two weeks.

If the cost of the track is around $420,000, the school will use the initially committed money for that and use the majority of the Big George donation to install Field Turf.

"We definitely want to be able to do both the track and the turf," Evans said. "But we are not going to force the issue. We'll see what prices the bidding process brings us and we'll make a determination from there.

"Obviously if it comes back to where we would only be able to get the track and the turf and nothing else, we'll go with the no-turf plan because those other improvements are more important at this stage."

The advantage of the turf would be that it would make the complex an all-sports facility, meaning the boys' and girls' soccer teams would be able to play their games there as well.

It would also mean Douglas would not have to expend the water and gas to care for the field that it does now. Many schools with Field Turf estimate savings at nearly $40,000 a year.

"We already have such a fantastic location for our football games," Evans said. "Anyone who has been out there with the mountains and the sunsets just before kickoff knows that it's a special place to be.

"I can't wait to see the finished product with all of these improvements in place. There will be no place like Douglas High on Friday nights."

Evans also said the school would look at trying to develop some larger track meets, maybe even sneaking into the college level, over the next several years. The improvements in the timing equipment and field apparatus would allow the school to do so if it wished.

n Joey Crandall can be reached at or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


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