Two promising changes appear to be on the horizon in the Brainerd High School Activities Department.
First, the current Warriors’ logo, in place since the mid-90s, is being revised and may be ready to be incorporated onto items like team uniforms beginning with the 2014-15 season. A committee of students, head and assistant coaches and administration helped develop a new logo with the assistance of Red House Media, a Brainerd advertising agency.
Second, a possible upgrade of the lower-site athletic fields may be getting close to reality.
At a facilities committee meeting July 18, members voted to allow school officials to start exploring a potential timetable, financing options and grasp the size and scope of potential renovations. The committee’s recommendation will go before the Aug. 19 school board meeting for final approval.
The lower site — the district’s football field, track, tennis courts and drainage of the entire site — was built in 1975. The district has performed routine maintenance and repairs the past 37 years, but major repair or replacement of surfaces and drainage is needed. The base on which the track, tennis courts and football field are located has not been removed or replaced since it was first installed.
Three options have been recommended for the lower site:
■ Option One: Delay major repairs and extend current use, at a cost of about $75,000 to $100,000.
Grass would be replaced on the football field and there would be limited improvements to the field and future track drainage via installation of new drains linked to a potential future site drainage system.
■ Option Two: Delay replacement of a new track and field complex, delay tennis court replacement but allow for future, more comprehensive renovations.
This option would authorize major repairs and expand current usage, with a price tag of about $1.15 million to $1.75 million. It calls for new field grass, a new poly track (bituminous/synthetic/blend surface), new tennis courts and installation of new site drainage.
■ Option Three: Authorize major repairs and expand current use, with a price tag ranging from $2.2 million to $2.7 million.
This option calls for football field grass to be replaced with artificial turf, construction of a new poly track and new tennis courts and install new site drainage.
The first option would be financed from existing capital funds. The second and third options would be funded through a mix of capital funds and lease levy authority, according to Brainerd superintendent Steve Razidlo.
Improvements to the south plaza and entry areas could push estimates higher.
Warriors activities director Charlie Campbell addressed the logo and lower-site issues in a question and answer session.
Q. Why pursue a different logo?
■ “I’ve been in Brainerd going on my third year, but almost immediately when I started it became clear to me the student body was looking for something to personify the Warrior. One of the first blue and white shirts I received was a shirt that our superfans put together. It had a Spartan head on it, and it said Brainerd Warriors. I think students have been kind of clamoring for something, that brings the Warrior to life, for quite some time.
“In addition, it happened at a time when the district is continually being challenged to communicate effectively and efficiently and we felt that our logos and mascots are essential components of our communication. It was the confluence of those separate, but connected, events that kind of started us down that process.”
Q. Committee members met with Red House Media. What did those discussions produce?
■ “It was a way for Aaron Hautala and his team at Red House to more intimately understand the significance of what it means to be a Warrior. It allowed them to go to work on some kind of creation.
“Part of that dialogue got to the crux of what can a Warrior be today? Where do we see it in terms of school mascots? Out of respect to our Native American community, we know we’re not going to go back to the image of the Native American warrior.”
Q. What will the new logo look like? I understand it will be a Nordic type of mascot.
■ “We continue to revise, but it has a closed fist and a hand over the heart. We have a little bit of a forward lean to say there is a certain level of aggressiveness to this Warrior mascot. Although it doesn’t wield a weapon, it has a shield. It doesn’t have horns on its helmet, which I think most people are immediately going to think about when they think about a typical Viking logo. That’s not what we’re shooting for here.
“We’re also trying to capture a sense of nobility, a certain sense of strength and pride, and maybe somehow capture an essence of the many facets of the Warrior Way — Respect, commitment, hard work, determination, perseverance — the things that we’re trying to teach kids through education-based athletics.”
Q. Transitioning to the athletic fields, what’s the long-range vision for the lower-site facility?
■ “As an administrative team, we’re kind of forcing the school board to answer that question. I think it would be irresponsible if we didn’t at this juncture confront that question directly.
“The question is what is our vision for the use of that facility for the next generation of kids? We can certainly rebuild the tennis courts and track and put in a beautiful natural grass surface in football that’s going to serve us well, but that would only preserve the use as it is currently.
“We haven’t done a lot of substantial work since that facility was built in 1975. There wasn’t soccer. Lacrosse wasn’t knocking at the door. Youth sports were not nearly as organized as they are now. Knowing that we’re going to have to invest in improvements on the lower site, I think it’s important to ask do we want to make this more of a multi-sport, multi-use facility? And, there’s a price tag to that.”
Q. How soon could an artificial turf field be ready for play?
■ “It depends what the ultimate decision is for the scope of the project. You can put a synthetic surface down and install it in a shorter period of time than you can a natural surface because you’ve got to give natural grass time to establish its roots and take hold, whereas with a synthetic surface you do the base prep, roll out the rug and you essentially can play.
“But we know this — I don’t think we have a few years to wait. Looking at our tennis courts this spring, we had to move subsection tennis from BHS to Forestview because of the damage to one of our courts.
“We know from our track coaches they’re reluctant to host any meets because of the deteriorating conditions of our track.
“We had to slit seed our football field twice this spring and summer in order to preserve a suitable playing surface for the course of the upcoming season.
“So, three years down the road, I don’t know it’s realistic. I think this needs to happen a little bit more quickly and that’s probably a little bit more uncomfortable because it’s a pretty significant investment. But, considering we really haven’t had a significant investment since 1975, that should make it a little easier to say, ‘Yeah, it’s time we do it.’”
Q. What would be the benefit of artificial turf on the football field?
■ “If we put in a synthetic surface, we’ll have the opportunity to use it a lot more, not only for competition but for practice and for a variety of activities that kids in this community choose to participate in.
“We need to ask ‘Do we see value investing the kind of dollars necessary to put a synthetic surface in?’ I certainly believe there’s incredible value in that.
“My colleagues who have worked in schools that transitioned from natural grass to a synthetic surface, I think to a ‘T,’ would tell you the same thing, that the benefit has proven to be of great value compared to the cost, just with the ways their facilities are being used.”
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.