Dwight Pickering has his fingers crossed.
"Time is running out," said Pickering, athletic director at Haskell Indian Nations University, "but we think it will happen."
Pickering was talking about the installation of artificial turf on the football field at Haskell Stadium, a proposed project that has been bogged down in government red tape for more than two months.
With seven weeks until the start of football season, time is indeed running out, but Pickering believes clearance could come any day now.
"It looks like we're in the final stages," Pickering said. "We just have to tie up loose ends here and there, and things will fall into place."
With 15 football games scheduled this fall at the venerable campus facility, wear and tear is inevitable on the grass that has covered the field since the stadium opened in 1926.
Haskell Stadium is the home of the Fightin' Indians as well as Lawrence High and Free State High. In the past, Free State has played one or two games at Memorial Stadium, but school officials have opted to play all their home games at Haskell this fall.
Lawrence High has called Haskell Stadium home for the last 75 years, although the Lions have shifted to Memorial Stadium a couple of times over the years when the Haskell field was unplayable. Kansas University's football stadium has had artificial turf since 1970.
Haskell has a six-game home slate this fall. Lawrence High has five home games, including the annual intra-city clash with Free State on Oct. 20. Free State has four official home contests.
Haskell Stadium Schedule
Here is a list of the football games scheduled at Haskell Stadium this fall: Sept. 1 - Lawrence High vs. Olathe North Sept. 2 - Haskell vs. Principia Sept. 7 - Free State vs. Olathe East Sept. 8 - Lawrence High vs. Olathe South Sept. 15 - Free State vs. SM North Sept. 16 - Haskell vs. St. Mary Sept. 22 - Lawrence High vs. Leavenworth Sept. 30 - Haskell vs. Southwestern Oct. 6 - Free State vs. Olathe Northwest Oct. 7 - Haskell vs. Briar Cliff Oct. 13 - Free State vs. Topeka High Oct. 14 - Haskell vs. Avila Oct. 20 - Free State vs. Lawrence High Oct. 27 - Lawrence High vs. Topeka High Nov. 11 - Haskell vs. Bacone
Eight - or more than half - of the 15 games will be played in September. Six will be in October and just one in November - Haskell against Bacone on Nov. 11.
However, the November slate - and the overall total - could grow if one or both of the city high schools secures a home game, or games, in the postseason playoffs.
If the months of September or October or both are plagued by wet weather, it's unlikely a grass field would hold up into November. But that potential problem would be solved, of course, with artificial turf.
Pickering has declined to reveal specifics about the cost of the project, or the source of funding. However, the price tag will surely be more than a half a million dollars, and it's highly doubtful taxpayers' money will be involved.
Reportedly, the entire project will be funded by private sources, with the money to come from a major soft-drink firm and from an out-of-state casino.
In mapping plans, HINU officials have been working with ATG Sports Industries, an Andover company that has already installed its SuperTurf at Fort Hays State and at several high school facilities in Kansas.
According to an ATG spokesperson, the company's installation process takes roughly 17 days, so plenty of wiggle room may still exist.
"The main thing," Pickering said, ''is we want it to happen. Right now, we're just waiting. I wish it would move faster."