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Schafer Hole

Hole Develops in New Schafer Turf (UPDATED With School Comments)

By Jason Van Arkel, September 26, 2017

Halfway through the football season, Ottumwa High officials are dealing with an unexpected problem with the new Field Turf playing surface at Schafer Stadium. A sizable hole has appeared in the turf on the visitors’ side of the stadium, just out of bounds for the football field, and along the sideline of the soccer field.

As pictured above, the hole is about three yards wide, parallel to the football sideline from about the 20-yard line to the 17-yard line. The cones placed around the hole are about five normal paces from the football sideline, and for now, school officials have covered it with a piece of plywood. The cordoned-off area sits five yards outside of the area for the visitors’ bench, but is in a place where a player running out of bounds at full stride could crash into it in two or three steps.

Ottumwa School Superintendent Nicole Kooiker told Ottumwa Radio News that a sinkhole formed on the visitors side following heavy rains last week.

“They’re coming in to fix it early next week. It was after the rain we had the other night,” Kooiker said, referring to the morning of Thursday, September 21st when 5-7 inches of rain fell in Ottumwa. “But that still shouldn’t happen. It’s all warranted and covered.”

Kooiker said the contractor will return to the stadium in the first half of next week. She said the exact cause of the sinkhole will be determined at that time. “They don’t know if it’s because of tiling, or structure. Once they get here they can tell us what happened.”

The next varsity game at Schafer will be October 6th, when Ottumwa hosts Burlington for the annual Homecoming game. The Ottumwa freshman team is scheduled to host Cedar Rapids Prairie on Thursday.

Kooiker added that there may also be delays for the district’s Track Resurfacing Project.

In August, the school board reversed an earlier decision and funded a new surface for the Bob Warren Track at Schafer Stadium, as well as a new electronic scoreboard.

“Various companies have concerns with the product that he has put out,” Kooiker said, referring to Kim Mulch of Klingner & Associates,”saying there are not enough specifications and details.”

“The bid openings are supposed to be Thursday,” Kooiker said. “As of right now, we don’t think we’re going to have any bids on Thursday.”

Kooiker said the bidding documents will likely be amended to allow more time for companies to submit bids.

The Ottumwa 7th-grade football team had been scheduled to host Fort Madison on Tuesday, but the school postponed the game Tuesday afternoon. Kooiker said the game was not postponed because of the sinkhole, but rather because the Fort Madison team was unable to obtain a bus to make the trip.

Ottumwa Radio News reporter Nick Davis also contributed to this article.