By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo School District will explore resurfacing the Tupelo High School football field with blue turf.
The field currently is natural grass.
Athletic Director Andy Schoggin made a presentation about the possible use of the turf during a School Board work session on Tuesday morning.
The school already has requested and received permission from Boise State University to use blue turf. BSU is famous for the blue turf on its football field and has received a patent on it, Schoggin said.
“It is a chance to stand out, like Tupelo High does,” Schoggin said of the blue field, which he called a “bold design.”
The field would cost about $935,000, Schoggin said, and the district hopes to raise about $720,000 by selling sponsorships. For $60,000, companies could purchase a 7-foot by 9-foot panel on the field near the sideline.
Schoggin said the advantage of the turf is that it would allow for more use than the natural grass, the use of which must sometimes be limited to preserve its appearance.
For example, the band would be able to practice on the field instead of in a parking lot, and the football team would be able to practice there instead of its practice field. The new surface also would be used by soccer, and the track would be resurfaced as part of the project.
“You increase the use of your playing surface,” Schoggin said. “…The only thing that would keep you off the field is lightning.”
It would cost about $5,000 annually to maintain, Schoggin said, compared to about $40,000 a year to maintain a grass field. He said companies providewarranties on the turf for 10 years now, and it could last longer.
The initial design includes a blue field with a gold end zone and sideline. The letters“Tupelo” would be written in blue in each end zone. The track would be gold.
Football coach Trent Hammond said the field turf would provide a consistent surface that wouldn’t be hampered by bad weather. And he said the school would not have to cancel junior high football games after poor weather in order to preserve the field for Friday nights.
He and Schoggin said students heavily favored the blue turf in discussions.
“If you came up with a blue field, no matter who you are, there will be a wow factor,” Hammond said.
A 14-member advisory committee has formed and will meet again after Thanksgiving, Schoggin said. The hope is to begin fundraising before the end of the year and to continue to explore the possibility of installing the field.
The ambitious goal would be to have it ready by next August, Schoggin said.