BANGS ? Dragon Memorial Stadium will feature a drastic new look for the 2013 football campaign. During a special meeting of the Bangs Independent School District Board of Trustees this past Monday, the board approved an expenditure for a synthetic turf field.

    The project, set to be complete prior to the first home game versus Goldthwaite on Sept. 13, carries with it a $784,668 price tag. Superintendent Bill Foster explained the financial benefits of the new field makes it a worthwhile project. “The architects predict that you break even at the seven-year mark,” Foster said. “Money is saved on watering and the cost of maintenance.”

    Maintaining a grass field requires watering twice weekly, as well as mowing, chores not necessary with a turf field. “Instead of the mowing and watering, we will only need to ‘sweep’ the field twice per year and disinfect once per year,” Foster said. A turf sweeper, which is included in the cost of the new field, is used to pick up grass, twigs, leaves and debris as small as sunflower seeds that may find their way onto the field.

    Safety of students using a turf field was also a factor in the board’s decision, Foster said. “Research has shown that concussions are drastically reduced on turf fields versus those playing on grass.”

    Another possible economic benefit of the new field will be Dragon Memorial Stadium playing host to postseason games. “There will be more people that will want to come here to play,” Foster said. “And with a busload of students, you will always have carloads of parents and fans who will come to Bangs, purchase gas and buy drinks and food.”

    Marching contests are another option for the new field. “The band director has already voiced interest in hosting a competition here, something we haven’t been able to do before,” Foster said.

    The process of looking into the turf began approximately a year ago as drought conditions worsened and was a decision the board took “very seriously,” Foster said. “The board discussed every avenue of this project.”

    Foster said despite the positives involved with the new field, the water issue was the most pressing. “With the Stage 3 drought conditions, the grass field was becoming more and more of a burden. We all love the nostalgia related to the grass field, but it was a burden because of the water situation. Plus, the district will be able to save thousands of dollars by not watering.”

    The 10-year note for the project will require an estimated $96,000 annual payment, with the first not being due until 2015, another benefit for the district, Foster explained. “The note for the gymnasium will be paid off in January 2014. We will no longer be making a $264,000 annual payment, but a $96,000 payment instead.”

    Chuck Lipsey, athletic director and head football coach, said he shared Foster’s excitement. “This is great for the kids that will be able to use this field and for future generations,” Lipsey said. “And this isn’t just about football. This is something the entire community will be able to benefit from. This is something everyone can look forward to.”