Georgia's Hugh Mills Stadium upgrades with artificial turf

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Dougherty County commissioners got a detailed look at materials that are part of an overall improvement proposal at Hugh Mills Stadium that includes installation of artificial turf in the stadium.

Officials with Calhoun-based FieldTurf, an international industry leader which installed artificial turf at Lee County High School’s Trojan Field and is responsible for all but three NFL stadiums, explained the patented technology used to provide the latest generation of artificial surfaces. The Hugh Mills upgrade, which was part of the Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax VI referendum approved by county voters, would also include new fencing, improvements in the stands and a new scoreboard.

Bob Fowler, Chuck Roberts and Johnny Seabrooks, all members of the Dougherty County Stadium Authority, asked the commission for the funding to move forward with the project.

Seabrooks, who coached in the Dougherty County School System and served as countywide Athletic Director for a total of 40 years before retiring last year, said the benefits of FieldTurf’s system are many.

We get 3 inches of rain, you won’t see water on the ground,” Seabrooks said. “Plus, when you consider the costs associated with keeping up a grass field as opposed to a one-time installation cost, it more than makes up for the difference.”

Fowler said he and Seabrooks had conducted testing that showed the turf is also from 30 to 35 percent cooler than natural turf.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis said that the county had already collected the SPLOST funding needed to complete the project, which he noted, based on FieldTurf’s estimate for the job, is under budget. The county had originally estimated $847,000 for the turf installation as part of a $1.175 million stadium overhaul.

We’ve staggered projects (listed on the SPLOST VI referendum), and that has allowed us to collect the funding needed (for the stadium upgrade),” Crowdis said. “Hugh Mills is an older facility, but we’ve kept it state-of-the-art over the years. Our improvements on the track have allowed us to keep the girls (high school) state track meet for how long now, Johnny?”

“Thirty years,” Seabrooks responded.

When you see all those school buses in our motel and hotel parking lots and know those students are eating at our restaurants and filling up (their buses) at our gas stations, there obviously is a lot of competition statewide to (host the state meet),” the county administrator added.

Commissioners will vote on the funding at their business meeting next week.

“What we’re going to end up with is, essentially, an Olympic-quality stadium,” County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said.