Jerry Johnson Field

New artificial turf field sparks Wausau School Board debate 

Jerry Johnson Field

Under a new plan to spend the most recently approved referendum money, the new proposed artificial athletic field would be built this year — but its placement has sparked some controversy on the Wausau School Board Monday. 

Under a plan presented by consultant Nexus and approved Monday by the Wausau School Board, the artificial field would be built this year on the current Jerry Johnson Field, which would allow the turf field to host football, soccer and lacrosse. The site already has lights and limited seating, and a track circles the field. That’s part of the overall referendum spending that includes improvements at other schools. 

But the proposal sparked a bigger debate on the school board. The ending of the school merger led some school board members to question whether a bigger plan for athletic fields ought to be considered before making a choice on where to build the specific field. And there are other considerations such as the potential for science lab expansions at Wausau West, which most likely would be on that side of the building. 

There is a spot to the right of Jerry Johnson Field that would allow for a stadium at some point, which some wondered if that made it duplicative. 

But other board members said many districts have two artificial fields, one for practice, so ultimately building the $1.8 million field on the proposed site wouldn’t be a waste of money. 

Board member Cory Sillars said he wanted more time to talk about bigger plans with the community and get feedback. And Board Member Patrick McKee said he thought the board should get a sense of the bigger picture before they build the field too.