Freedom Area to spend $1.4 million to install artificial turf, expand track at stadium

12 April 2018

The Freedom Area School District is about to spend $1.4 million to install artificial turf and replace the track at Bulldog Stadium.

Superintendent Jeff Fuller said Wednesday that work will start at the stadium in early May, and the project will be ongoing until early August. The stadium will remain closed during that time, which means graduation ceremonies will take place in the high school auditorium instead.

The reasons for the upgrades are simple, Fuller said. As of now, the end zones of the football field extend onto the track, which creates a safety issue for those using the field and the track alike.

“Our track is pretty significantly degraded and needs to be replaced,” Fuller said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to just replace the track if we can enlarge it to the point that the football field doesn’t encroach on the track.”

It’s been at least 20 years since the track was resurfaced, Fuller said, and it made sense not just to replace it, but to also expand it.

Another reason is for the safety of athletes using the field, Fuller said.

“It’s a great playing surface, but it’s too small with the corners of the end zones on the hard track surface,” he said. “With an increased consciousness of concussions, we really had to take a look at the safety of our athletes. That’s why we decided to enlarge the track and provide a safer artificial turf that’s more consistent for our athletes.”

The upgrades and renovations won’t just benefit student athletes, Fuller said. Students in kindergarten to grade 12 use the field during the school year, and plenty of community members use the track during the day for walking or other exercise.

That’s not to mention that Bulldog Stadium becomes the face of the district on Friday nights during football season.

“It’s a venue that brings people from outside of the school district into the school district on Friday nights in the fall,” he said. “It really becomes the center of the community on Friday nights in the fall, so we’re really excited to have a very nice facility to support students and the community alike.”

While the cost of the project is about $1.4 million, Fuller said the district is looking into a number of grant programs and other sources of funding that could help decrease the cost to the district.

The district has contracted with an international company called FieldTurf for the project. According to the company’s website, FieldTurf has installed artificial turf at National Football League and college football stadiums across the country, as well as a Major League Soccer stadium.