EARLY — With the football season opener less than five months away, installation of a new field turf surface has Longhorn Stadium abuzz.
Construction crews began installing the field turf shortly after the Early ISD Board of Trustees approved a $411,072 finance agreement with First Security Finance of Arkansas to fund replacing the turf, which had been the original turf installed after construction of Longhorn Stadium finished in 2008.
“It’s the original turf that’s being replaced,” Early ISD Athletic Director Blake Sandford said. “It’s going to look fantastic. It’s going to be great for our kids to have a good, functional turf and with all of the stuff that comes along with it with durability and safety.”
Sandford said replacing the turf had been an ongoing conversation with administrators and, typically, turf lasts between eight and 12 years.
“The fibers start to come up and it starts getting a lot harder underneath,” Sandford said. “It’s just a breakdown of the product because it’s outside the whole time through summer and winter. They tend to last anywhere from eight to 12 years. When it becomes time to do it, it’s time to do it and we’ve been blessed with a school board that recognized the need.”
Although requiring ripping up the entire field surface of Longhorn Stadium, Sandford said turf installation will not interfere with ongoing athletics nor summer strength and conditioning programs because the EHS football team has an indoor practice facility it uses throughout the year.
“We’re still using our track to work for track and that is not effected, it’s just the interior field,” he said. “We still have a turf room and grass fields that we use for spring football and stuff like that. It’s not impacting us at all on anything that we do.”
While football may seem a point of emphasis because of it’s revenue generating potential, Sandford said the proactive measures applied by the board of trustees apply to more than what takes place on the gridiron.
“Our school board is proactive in anything if it involves the benefit of our kids, whether it’s turf or anything else,” he said. “They’re proactive in everything. They work very hard to do what’s best for our kids at Early Independent School District … It was just a need that needed to be addressed and it got addressed. It was just between me and the superintendent to make sure we got the right product.”