SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On Monday night, Springfield City Council discussed plans to accept a $13 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the Cooper and Killian fields project. 

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board intends to use grant funds to install artificial turf on sports fields at Lake Country Fields to enhance the quality of games and bring more sporting events to Springfield.

“This project, we are replacing the field surface on 19 playing fields,” said Jenny Fillmore Edwards with the Park Board. “Having these fields as artificial turf makes them more resilient.”

The new surfaces will help keep games on the schedule during bad weather and will benefit the city as a whole by attracting more tournaments. 

“We are constantly working with the Springfield Sports Commission to attract tournaments to our community, and that brings people to our hotels, folks eating in our restaurants, shopping in our stores, buying our gas. Contributing to the total tax revenue,” said Fillmore Edwards.

Despite some community worries about the turf change, a sports medicine specialist OzarksFirst spoke to today says turf fields aren’t necessarily safer than grass, but they can be more convenient. 

“We see injuries from just about every surface and whether that’s a court, you know, or whether that’s asphalt or whether that’s grass, whether that’s turf,” said Eric Gifford, a sports physician at 417 Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. “Most of the families and most of the athletes are, they’re excited to have turf.”

The soccer fields are the first phase of this project and are expected to be finished by the end of 2024. The City Council plans to vote on the funding at its meeting on August 21.