Better fields mean lighter wallets

Athletic field renovations lead to increased entrance fees

The+ticket+prices+for+both+football+games+and+scrimmages+has+been+increased+from+seven+to+eight+dollars+this+year+due+to+the+progressive+installment+of+synthetic+turf+at+all+of+Fayette+County%E2%80%99s+high+schools.+The+additional+dollar+will+be+saved+in+a+fund+to+assist+the+county+in+paying+for+the+maintenance+of+the+synthetic+turf+fields.+

Shelby Foster

The ticket prices for both football games and scrimmages has been increased from seven to eight dollars this year due to the progressive installment of synthetic turf at all of Fayette County’s high schools. The additional dollar will be saved in a fund to assist the county in paying for the maintenance of the synthetic turf fields.

Ximena Bejarano, Staff Writer

As the football season begins, numerous students and faculty members at Starr’s Mill excitedly look forward to spending their Friday nights at the stadium to cheer on the team and have a good time. Filled with lively energy and suspense, football games can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. They unite families, friends, and, more importantly, the Mill’s student body as a whole to generate school spirit.

With an upgraded stadium, new uniforms and helmets, returning star players and award-winning coaches, high expectations have been placed on the football team to dominate the field and have yet another successful season this year. While it takes quite a bit to put a damper on the Friday-night hype, one change in particular has caught the attention of attendees: the more expensive entrance fee.

Volunteers repaint Sandy Creek’s field before the Patriots’ next home game. Sandy Creek is the first high school in Fayette County to have its own synthetic turf field. Their success with the synthetic turf will determine if the countywide project will continue in the future.
Aelise Gagliano
Volunteers repaint Sandy Creek’s field before the Patriots’ next home game. Sandy Creek is the first high school in Fayette County to have its own synthetic turf field. Their success with the synthetic turf will determine if the countywide project will continue in the future.

The entrance fee for all of Fayette County’s football games and scrimmages has increased this year from seven to eight dollars. “The increase in ticket prices was a county decision,” Starr’s Mill’s athletic director, Sandy Martin, said. “Fayette County has made the decision to invest in synthetic turf at all of its high schools over the next two years.” The additional dollar, according to Martin, “will be saved in a fund that will be given to the county to help with the longer term maintenance needs of the synthetic turf.”

The Fayette County Board of Education voted last May for Sandy Creek in Tyrone to be the first high school in the county to receive its own synthetic turf field. Board members made this unanimous decision after examining all five Fayette County high schools and their facilities. Ted Lombard, the athletic coordinator for Fayette County schools, confirmed that numerous fields are currently “in poor shape.”

The multitude of hazards that Sandy Creek’s previous field presented and its aged condition especially stood out to the board. “Sandy Creek’s old field was dangerous because of sinkholes and other safety issues,” Lombard said. “Almost one million dollars were needed to be invested in repairs as well as other practice fields.”

The proposition to give every high school in Fayette County its own synthetic turf field was initially discussed several years ago, but the plan failed to go through “because of economical issues,” Lombard said. The much needed renovation of Sandy Creek’s field encouraged board members to look into the suggestion for a second time. The addition of new sports that compete on the field also brought attention to improving the high schools’ fields for the benefit of various athletes. “If football was the only sport that played on the field,” Lombard said, “a turf field most likely wouldn’t have been considered.”

[Synthetic fields] will ‘wear better, be safer, and result in less rain delays.’”

— Fayette County athletics coordinator Tom Lombard

The benefits of having a synthetic turf field substantially outweigh the disadvantages. Although synthetic turf fields are more expensive to maintain, they will “wear better, be safer, and result in less rain delays,” Lombard said. Sports medicine specialists from Atlanta Orthopedics have also reported that synthetic turf fields “cause less concussions,” Lombard said.

Still, it is not yet guaranteed that every high school in Fayette County will receive synthetic turf. Because Sandy Creek is the pilot school for the new turf, the members of the school board will have to evaluate its success with the turf field before looking into renovating the other schools’ fields.

According to Lombard, the decision to continue with the countywide project will be finalized in the spring. If Sandy Creek’s renovation is successful, the remaining four high schools in Fayette County will likely receive synthetic turf on an as-needed basis. He estimates that Fayette County High School will receive synthetic turf after Sandy Creek, since its current athletic field is “in the second worst condition based on personal assessment.”

The introduction of synthetic turf and increased ticket prices in Fayette County’s high schools will not only have an impact on the football team but other sports, as well. Aside from football, lacrosse and soccer along with track and field events also compete on the field. These three sports and their increased entrance fees can be found online.

In the interest of Fayette County, these ticketing changes will be permanent in order to pay for the maintenance of the synthetic turf fields.