PENDLETON — It is a sign of what’s to come.
While there is uncertainty over when athletic events will resume at all levels — high school, college and pro — once they do at Pendleton Heights High School, John Broughton Field will have a new look and feel.
In January, South Madison Community School Corp. approved a contract with Maumee Bay Turf Center of Ohio to install a synthetic turf field as part of construction project at the high school stadium.
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Cost of the renovation is $798,000.
At the end of April, work began on the makeover that is expected to be wrapped up in late July or early August, Pendleton Heights athletic director Chad Smith said.
With the school campus empty because of COVID-19 restrictions and students taking classes online, the excavation portion of the project started a couple weeks earlier than scheduled. The rest of the blueprint is expected to be on schedule with the turf installation to begin in mid- to late June.
“The turf manufacturer was shut down (because of COVID-19) for a while, but they are back open (as of Monday, May 4),” Smith said. “The goal is to be done at the end of July, start of August.”
The first home football game on the 2020 regular-season schedule is Aug. 28 against Anderson, the second game of the season.
Pendleton Heights was one of only three schools in the Hoosier Heritage Conference that did not have a synthetic turf football stadium. The other two are Yorktown and Shelbyville.
The turf field is another segment of how the corporation has put an emphasis on athletics and fitness facilities at the high school.
Recently, the school has added an activity center that has provided upgrades in locker rooms, weight room among other amenities.
“This is bigger than football,” said Jed Richman, who along with being the head football coach for the Arabians is the school’s strength and conditioning teacher. “It shows the direction we’re headed and the seriousness of giving our kids the best facilities they can have.”
Richman said he and Christopher Taylor, the school’s director of bands, have previously worried about tearing up the field, a fear that goes away now.
“We’re blessed to have this for the whole corporation,” Richman said.
Smith said through the years the wear and tear on the natural-turf field had created worn down areas that never recovered.
Along with the football team, other athletic programs and health and fitness classes, Smith said the field will be, “great for the band to march on.”
“Everyone is going to benefit from (the synthetic turf),” Smith said. “I think everybody is going to be happy with it.”
According to Smith, the school’s soccer coaches said they still prefer playing games on their natural grass fields but would likely use the turf stadium for practice when preparing for matches against teams with artificial turf.
They could choose to use the field for games, too, if their field is deemed unplayable because of weather.