The high school will soon have a new multi-purpose sports facility, featuring a state-of-the-art synthetic turf field, similar to the kind that was installed at the city stadium and opened the doors to rentals by leagues and colleges throughout the area.

Athletic Director Tom O'Brien said the new facility will also include a softball diamond along with dugouts, batting cages, fencing and a scoreboard, and full-sized fields for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.

"All we had before was a grass field that was used mostly for soccer," O'Brien said.

In a letter to School Superintendent Margaret Marotta, O'Brien said the new sports facility will an be outstanding resource for the city's high school and middle school athletic teams, as well as for physical education classes.

"Additionally, this presents an opportunity to generate a significant amount of revenue through rentals and advertising," he said.

O'Brien said this spring was terrible for natural fields like the kind behind the high school.

"The grass fields are still unusable because they are still wet," he said. "The key is the new softball facility, which spurred this project on as a need for an equitable facility to baseball. It was a Title IX issue and I give credit to the mayor, the City Council and the School Committee for recognizing that and allowing us to get this done."

Previously, high school girls softball was played at Riverside Park, on a dirt and grass field.

"We struggled to play in the spring, as it had similar issues," O'Brien said. "It has no dugouts, no scoreboard, no fence and no batting cages. We have all those things now and a synthetic turf field that is equal to or even better than the baseball field at Trinity Stadium."

O'Brien said Haverhill will have one of the few, all-turf softball facilities in New England.

"We're still using fields inside the running track, which needs to be replaced," he said. "We hope to do that as soon as possible as we have not been able to hold any events there. We recently had to move the Ottaviani Invitational for the first time in 42 years."

O'Brien said he is making a number of recommendations to the School Committee, regarding the use of the new facility, once it opens. They include charging a fee of $100 per hour for use of the facility.

"Rentals would be handled through the high school athletic department and the Director of Athletics could negotiate seasonal contracts or flat rates under certain circumstances," he said in his letter to the superintendent. "I would also recommend we give organizations the opportunity to purchase advertising space on the surrounding fencing. Four by eight-foot banners would be available for $1,000 per year.

"All of these recommended policies and procedures are similar to what has been in place at Trinity Stadium and have worked well," O'Brien added.

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