When the Knights football team steps on the field for its home opener Friday, it will be the players' first time on the new playing surface installed at the Oak Creek High School football stadium.
Just in the nick of time, the turf is ready for the 2012 season. The junior varsity team became the first squad to play on the field Thursday, while the varsity Knights make their debut Friday.
The field looks like real grass but is an artifical surface commonly referred to by the brand name FieldTurf. It has become widely used at football stadiums throughout the country. Supporters say the turf is a safer playing surface and easier to maintain.
Crews continued working throughout Wednesday to prepare the field, meaning Oak Creek had no practice time on it prior to Friday's game against Racine Park. Delays during construction forced work to continue down to the wire.
Head Coach Mike Bartholomew said he told the players they have no control over when the field is ready, so there's no use in complaining about it.
"We've been looking at it every day," he said. "We're ready to get on it."
The Oak Creek-Franklin School Board approved financing for the turf back in March. The estimated cost was $1,042,370. School officials said the money came from within the budget and did not require raising taxes.
Board members said the field can now be used year-round by a wide range of community groups.
"I'm excited personally for football, but I think more so, I'm excited for the community," Bartholomew said. "The community can use it for a number of different things."
Bartholomew said the turf also makes the Oak Creek football stadium one of the best in the region.
"You're talking about probably one of the top five stadiums in the southeast part of the state," he said. "To me, to be part of the Oak Creek-Franklin School District, it really makes you proud of that facility."