Photo by Jon Anderson
Hoover track April 2017
The track at Hoover High School has needed replacing for 10 years, track coach Devon Hind said.
The Hoover school board has agreed to spend $2.74 million to put new artificial turf on the football fields and new track surfaces at Hoover and Spain Park high schools.
But Superintendent Kathy Murphy and school board members left the door open to possibly upgrade to higher-quality tracks after track and field supporters objected to installing a lower-quality surface.
Murphy originally recommended installing polyurethane track surfaces at both schools, but Hoover High School track coach Devon Hind objected, saying the school district needs to install a higher-quality Mondo track, which is a prefabricated synthetic rubber surface.
Mondo is widely viewed as the top-grade track surface. Hind said Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills have it, and Thompson is getting ready to install it.
“We don’t need Hoover to be second-rate. Mountain Brook’s not second-rate. Vestavia’s not second-rate,” Hind said. “I’m not one to keep up with the Joneses, but I’m just telling you, they’re making wise investment choices because if we spend more now, it will serve us more in the future.”
The Mondo tracks last longer and are not too expensive to maintain, Hind said. Mountain Brook has had its Mondo track for 17 years and had to spend only about $27,000 on repairs over that time, he said.
A comparison provided by Hoover school officials indicates both the polyurethane and Mondo tracks come with 10-year warranties, but the life expectancy for a polyurethane track is 15 years versus 20 years for Mondo.
However, according to that comparison sheet, polyurethane can be resurfaced, extending its useful life up to another eight years, while Mondo cannot be resurfaced.
Tracy Hobson, the coordinator of operations for Hoover City Schools, said Mondo track surfaces tend to show imperfections and unevenness in the base of the track more, while polyurethane surfaces are more forgiving and hide the imperfections better.
The comparison by school officials indicates little to no change in the force reduction of a polyurethane track as the track ages, while the Mondo surface becomes significantly harder over time. Both surfaces exceed standards set by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
A polyurethane track is expected to cost $325,958 at Hoover and $401,563 at Spain Park, while a Mondo track is estimated to cost $645,230 at Hoover and $818,605 at Spain Park. The total price difference is $736,314, combining both schools.
Hind noted that the school board budgeted $3.5 million to do the turf and track projects at both schools, and the total cost with Mondo tracks and architectural fees would be $3,476,540, which is below budget. “If we budgeted for the best, we should do the best,” he said.
Murphy said just because there is $3.5 million in the budget doesn’t mean the school system should spend it all.
Hind said he thinks the track program once again is getting slighted. The specifications for the football field turf were written exactly for the kind of turf the football program wanted.
“It looks like we’re going to Cadillac on the turf and use Pinto on the track,” he said.
Hind said Hoover High has needed a track for 10 years. “I was told five years ago we had the worst track facility in the state,” he said.
The track got two “glorified paint jobs” in the past 14 years, and both of those were before nationally televised football games on ESPN, he said. “It had nothing to do with track. They wanted to look good for the TV.”
Hind said he’s thankful to get a new track surface, but “I’m just one of those people that if you’re going to do it, do it right.”
School board members had some additional questions at their April 10 meeting, so Murphy amended her recommendation. The new recommendation was to approve the polyurethane track so prep work could begin, with the option to upgrade if school officials decide to go that route after further investigation.
Today, the school board called a special meeting for 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, to confirm the recommendation for the turf and tracks at the two schools. That meeting will be at the Farr Administration Building at 2810 Metropolitan Way.