West Monroe ready to break in new stadium, artificial turf

28 July 2017

Naturally, the West Monroe football team and its fans should’ve always been on the west side of its stadium.

When the Rebels kick off the 2017 season against John Ehret Sept. 1 on Don Shows Field at Rebel Stadium, all will be directionally correct as the new home stands on the west side of the facility along with the new artificial turf are ready to help the team usher in the season.

Work on the new bleachers, a start-of-the-art press box, concession stand and restrooms on the new home side began December 2015 after the old set of visitors stands that were constructed in the 1950s were demolished, and the $6.5 million project was completed early this spring. The new seats bring Rebel Stadium’s capacity to 5,200 spectators.

Global Synthetics Environmental LLC started laying the new turf, replacing the old artificial surface for $412,000, back in May and finished around the first of July. The newly polished upgrades give players, coaches and supporters something to look forward to, said West Monroe head football coach Jerry Arledge.

“West Monroe is a very prideful community,” Arledge told The News-Star Thursday. “It loves its football. We have tremendous fan support and the school board, the faculty. It’s kind of a focal point of this community is the high school football. Why wouldn’t you be proud of that? These people, these players, these coaches, this community is extremely proud of this facility.”

Arledge originally anticipated the new bleachers would be completed before last year, but record rainfall derailed the debut. Now after ample time to get the renovations right for the football program and its fans, the coach said the finished product will be worth the wait.

“Once we didn’t make it, we realized we didn’t want to switch in the middle of the year, so might as well slow down and take their time on it. I think the architect and the crews did a great job on this stadium,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have gotten it and it’s a beautiful facility. It’s something this community will be proud of for a long time.

“It’s (the supporters’) money that allowed this to be built. It’s a great sense of pride and I know that we’ll enjoy it for a long period of time.”

West Monroe’s old turf was put down in 2003 with at the time an experimental soil cement foundation – a base that according to Arledge saved the high school and the Ouachita Parish School Board more than half the amount it would’ve cost for its new playing surface. The new turf was laid on top of a new shock pad and drain pad.

“That turf was $450,000. At that time,(the soil cement foundation) was experimental,” Arledge said. “Most people were digging out eight to 12 inches and putting rock to gravel as foundation and drainage. This one, since we were able to use the old base basically saved us over half for a new turf.”

Switching the home sideline will bring some additional cost like bringing over the sound system and scoreboard connections. The new visitors side, Arledge said, need some cosmetic work with a new layer of paint.

The Rebels have not stepped foot on the new turf yet, but will get their chance soon as the team opens preseason practice next week. Arledge knows his players will be excited to get to play in the new Rebel Stadium.

“You think about how things have changed. Last year, I think we played on one natural grass field,” the coach said. “All rest of the games were on turf.  We have a partial field of astroturf also, practice field. That helps we work on it every day along with working on a grass field.

“We play all over the state and other states and the kids realize that this is a very unique facility that’s probably as good as any public high school in the state of Louisiana. Probably public or private in the state of Louisiana. I think they’re extremely proud of it and maybe they’ll play a little bit better on it.”