Teams roll into action on renovated South Mercer Playfields

School district and city collaborate on major project.

About a year after planning commenced and contracts were signed, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will occur for the renovated South Mercer Playfields at noon on March 11.

Construction began on the expansive joint project between the Mercer Island School District (MISD) and the city of Mercer Island last June/July and the community event is slated to take place during the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) softball team’s 16-squad jamboree, which will roll out from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on that day.

The fields have been in use since Jan. 8, according to the city’s recreation manager Ryan Daly. While gazing onto the facility, one can spot synthetic turf fully blanketing a multipurpose soccer, lacrosse, football and ultimate Frisbee field and the infield and outfield of the MIHS softball field, LED lighting, new dugouts and a new small secondary playfield. A pair of additional baseball/softball fields feature turfed infields.

A total pre-tax price tag for the project sits at about $5.75 million, with $750,000 coming from the city, according to a previous Reporter article.

MISD Superintendent Fred Rundle said the project adds value to the community.

“I think it provides another excellent community space on the Island. The district portion of this came out of the Capital and Technology Levy,” said Rundle, who added that the district is grateful for the community’s support in passing the levy in February of 2022. “It affords us opportunities to do things like this, and obviously partnering with the city to be able to make sure that we got it built and developed in the way that it can be used to the best extent possible.”

A press release noted that the current and previous school board was instrumental in approving the playfields capital project. The playfields are located at 8220 SE 78th St.

FieldTurf was the lead contractor on the project, which featured a host of sub-contractors to complete the further duties. In the construction realm, Brandy Fox was the chief consultant from CPM Construction Planning and Management, and Tony Kuhn, MISD director of maintenance and operations, played an integral role, according to Rundle.

Sam Harb, the city’s parks operations manager, said there’s still a few punch-list items to complete on the immense project, but the bulk of the tasks are fulfilled.

“It’s looking great. It’s really transformed the landscape down there. It’s still going to be a little bit challenging because we’re going to have multiple surfaces on site, so we’re still going to be mowing in some areas, and in other areas, we’re going to be maintaining the synthetic turf surfaces,” Harb said.

City parks foreman Tom Flynn said it was an exciting project to engage in and added that the community will benefit from the enhancements.

“We really went into this keeping the safety of the users in mind, so some of this new technology that’s going into the field is very innovative from that standpoint,” he said.

Daly said the school district did a stellar job working through some challenging supply chain issues to bring the project to fruition. He said the school district has top priority in booking fields, which are subsequently rented out mainly to Island youth teams and some adult softball leagues. The Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club is one of the facility’s biggest users for its baseball and softball activities.

According to Daly, the renovations — including night play under the new lights — are “enhancing our ability from the recreation side to program those facilities and get more of our community members out there.”

For South Mercer Playfields rental information, visit: