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A look at the tennis courts at the Alexandria Area High School taken earlier this summer. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

AAHS Track installation could affect fall schedules

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AAHS Track installation could affect fall schedules
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Weather problems have pushed back the installation of some final touches on the track surrounding Viking Savings Bank Field, which could provide some potential headaches with sports scheduling this fall at the new Alexandria Area High School.

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A wet spring has pushed back the installation of the final two polyurethane surface layers of the stadium’s nine-lane track.

Alexandria School District 206 Superintendent Rick Lahn hopes the track surface will be fully installed by the middle of August to allow usage by both the soccer and football teams once their seasons begin. Otherwise the district will need to do its best to schedule the minimum two-week installation around high school sporting events. The first game scheduled at AAHS stadium is August 21 with a boys and girls soccer doubleheader.

“We’re hoping that doesn’t happen, and right now we don’t have any reason to believe we are going to be delayed,” Lahn said on Tuesday. “Is that an absolute fact for certain? No, it’s not.”

Lahn said wet weather had delayed the installation process of the track’s asphalt surface. Once the asphalt base was installed it needed 30 days to cure, and crews have also repaired the surface to ensure it was properly constructed and fully flat.

The final step is now to install the top two layers of the track – a polyurethane undercoat and the rubberized polyurethane surface. The district hopes it can begin this project in about a week.

“There’s nothing wrong with the football or soccer complex,” Lahn said. “It’s all about the installation of the track.”

If the district is unable to find time to finish installing the top layers of the track by the start of the fall game schedule, Lahn said that every football game will still be played at the new stadium. But in an emergency, soccer games could be played at another facility in Alexandria.

“Even if they don’t put it in by the end of August, they can time it around our schedule,” Lahn said. “For football, we don’t have anywhere to go. For soccer we have some options.”

TENNIS COURT TESTS

The district recently sent test samples of the substrate and asphalt surfaces in the new AAHS tennis courts to ensure they have been installed correctly.

Small surface cracks which are now barely visible have appeared in one of the 12 tennis courts, prompting concern by the district. Twin Cities based Braun Intertec will test the samples to make sure the courts’ surface was built with the right type of asphalt and is not susceptible to further cracking.

“We’re having that tested to make sure we are having everything at the highest level,” Lahn said. “And if it’s not, we will have that repaired.”

Right now the district is on the hook for any costs related to the tests, but if any issues were found, the charge would be transferred to the responsible construction company. Lahn said they will not know how much the testing will cost until it’s completed, but said, “It’s not hugely expensive.”

“We always retain 5 percent of any project until everything meets our requirements for those kinds of situations,” Lahn said. “We requested the testing, so we’re paying for the testing to happen.”

The district has assured both the boys and girls high school tennis teams that home matches will still be played at the new facility. Any necessary repairs will be delayed until next summer.

“Absolutely the team will play on that surface this year,” Lahn said. “That’s not even a question, regardless if we had to do repair work on it. That would be delayed until next summer so it would not impact any tennis play on that surface; either boys or girls play this year.”

The district decided to push for the testing to make sure that the tennis courts were built to the highest possible quality. This has been the goal for district officials throughout the construction of the brand new Alexandria Area High School.

“We’re trying to be careful, and we want the taxpayers to know they are getting the best possible athletic complex and school that we can possibly deliver for them,” Lahn said. “They’ve invested their money in that building and we want to make sure everything is exemplary.”

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is the sports editor at the Pierce County Herald. Before working at the Herald, Blaze was a sports reporter at the Alexandria Echo Press for one year and 10 months. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
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