By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The blue turf is coming to Tupelo High School.
The district’s school board on Tuesday approved the $1.3-million project to install blue turf on its high school football field and to resurface its track.
Hellas Construction of Austin, Texas, won the bid for the project and will begin work shortly after THS hosts a regional track meet on April 26. The project is expected to be completed in late July or early August, before the school’s first home football game against Center Hill on Aug. 22.
Tupelo received permission from Boise State University to use the blue turf. BSU holds a patent on the unique playing surface. The track will be gold, matching Tupelo High’s colors.
Football coach Trent Hammond said his players have expressed excitement about the blue playing surface because it would stand out from other fields.
“A lot of people are excited about the turf,” Hammond said. “Our players are excited about the idea of blue and about being different. It is totally different and unique, and that has created a lot of buzz.”
The district has been working to find sponsors to cover much of the cost of the turf. It has currently raised about $705,000 in commitments, which would cover about 80 percent of the cost of the turf. That estimate does not include the cost of the track but officials said the district was going to have to resurface its track regardless of whether it added the turf.
THS athletic director Andy Schoggin said a few sponsors were drawn to the project by the color.
“It is a big accomplishment to be able to do this in a short timeline,” he said. “It shows the great community support we have. It will be exciting to see the work begin.”
Hammond said having turf will help because more groups will be able to use it. For instance, they no longer will have to cancel a middle school or junior high football game because the field is wet and needs to be preserved for the Friday varsity game. It also will be used by soccer and track, and the marching band will be able to practice there instead of on a parking lot.
“The exciting thing to me is it will benefit multiple programs across fine arts and athletics at Tupelo High School,” said Tupelo assistant superintendent Matthew Dillon. “It it exciting to see the community partner with the school district on this project.”