Antioch getting new football field, track for 2015-2016 school year April 29 2015

Work is in full swing and in slightly more than three months, Antioch is going to open its 2015 home football season with a Week 2 game against Moline.

What the Sequoit fans will see that night — besides what should be a very good football team led by star running back Griffin Hill — is a new artificial turf football field, surrounded by a new eight-lane track.

What those fans see right now — huge piles of dirt — is the reason that the Lakes athletic complex, four miles to the southeast, is home away from home this spring for Antioch's girls soccer team and its boys and girls track teams.

Nevertheless, construction is well under way at Antioch's football field, and athletic director Steve Schoenfelder said the project "is right on schedule," which means the football home opener will indeed be played at home.

Those fans at the Moline game also will notice that they aren't sitting in the same location as they have been for so many years. To accommodate the bigger track — eight lanes instead of six — the bleachers will be moved somewhat west and north.

Schoenfelder explained that the school district stayed in touch with state officials on the new design of the football stadium because it's always possible that somewhere down the line, the state might decide to expand Route 173, which runs east/west directly south of the football field. In other words, a long extra point kick in one direction could, in theory, sail onto the highway.

But field logistics aside, Schoenfelder feels this improvement is a win-win for the school.

"In the long run, this is going to save money," he said.

And here's why. The reason a new facility was needed was because the fields used for soccer and (in the fall) field hockey are on land northeast of the high school that has not held up well. The ground has become bumpy and uneven. Think the Olympic sport of mogul skiing, but without the snow.

That terrain is neither safe nor desirable for field hockey or soccer, so it either had to be repaired or replaced.

"It would cost $400,000 to fix it, and there's no guarantee that in two years, it wouldn't happen again," Schoenfelder said.

So, starting next fall, field hockey and soccer will have quality facilities for home games.

And maintenance costs will be reduced with the artificial turf, though not eliminated entirely.

Having artificial turf also benefits other programs, such as Antioch's marching band, which will have a place to practice. Schoenfelder said he even gave the band first call on what day it wanted the field for practice. The halftime shows at home are just a portion of what a school band does. It also competes, and in order to be successful, it needs to be precise in its movements and formations, so logging extra time on the football field will help the Marching Sequoits.

When Antioch plays football next fall, it will reduce the number of county schools with teams playing on natural grass to six.

Waukegan, Zion-Benton, North Chicago, Round Lake, Lakes and Lake Forest Academy still need a lawn mower.

That also means Antioch football players will still need two sets of shoes — one for artificial-turf games and one for road games at Lakes, Round Lake and Zion-Benton.