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Implementation of turf field at Four Seasons could be a ‘game-changer’ for Carroll County sports

Player's shadows are seen on the turf field during a girls soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Player's shadows are seen on the turf field during a girls soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Tuesday, Sept. 4. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

When it was announced last week that Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead would close its doors after more than 30 years in business, it left many local sports practices, clubs, and other recreational organizations in search of new homes.

However, the complex will remain open after Baltimore-based Coppermine Fieldhouse announced Thursday plans to acquire the facility.

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Company representatives toured the facility Monday, decided to purchase it Tuesday, and got a contract Wednesday, said Coppermine founder and owner Alex Jacobs.

“There are really great employees there and the customers are amazing,” Jacobs said. “It was an easy decision as far as what was there and what we thought we could bring to the table as far as giving that place some life and configuration.

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“We’re really investing in the people and the customers we saw there.”

Jacobs said Coppermine’s top priority, outside of improving the facility’s amenities, is to convert the outdoor grass field toward the front of the complex into a synthetic turf field, as well as upgrade the indoor facilities. This project could get underway as early as late fall and be potentially completed by next spring, depending on the length of time the permit process takes, he added.

There are currently no public turf fields in Carroll, and there has been plenty of open discussion about the state of the county’s current recreational facilities as compared to those in neighboring counties.

South Carroll field hockey coach Julie Radnoff said the implementation of a turf field is “long overdue,” and that Carroll is behind in terms of providing its athletes with that option while high schools in neighboring counties continue to add artificial playing surfaces.

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“It’s a game-changer,” Radnoff said. “Field hockey on turf versus grass are two different games. Having an opportunity on turf can only improve our chances to compete at the state level, especially when the state tournament is always on turf.”

The Cavaliers’ field hockey team captured the Class 1A state title with a 2-0 victory over Patuxent at Washington College last fall — it was the program’s first state championship since 2002. Washington College hosts the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state finals each year, and teams get to play on its stadium’s multi-sport turf field.

The MPSSAA boys and girls soccer state finals usually take place at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex, with also uses turf. Same goes for the boys and girls lacrosse state finals, which this past spring used Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County.

The launch for women’s soccer at Carroll Community College will be delayed until fall 2020, according to a news release the college sent out Friday.

Radnoff said she rented seven to eight days of turf at facilities in Howard County and had her team practice one day a week in South Carroll’s gymnasium to situate the speed change between grass and turf.

“Since the county is not ready to invest any money into turf fields, I don’t think it will dramatically change for us, not until the county is willing to invest in a lot more money in turf fields,” Radnoff said. “Then you will see big changes, but baby steps — you have to start somewhere.”

Coppermine operates eight facilities, including some with swimming pools, in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, according to its website. Jacobs said the addition of a turf field should attract more recreational teams, leagues and programs, as well as travel and club teams.

“We wanted to make sure customers knew we were going to stand by the facility and invest in them to keep the doors open and give them the opportunity to continue their memberships and programs they were currently running instead of leaving customers scrambling to find places to continue their programs,” Jacobs said.

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