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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
VERNON - The Leo Brittain Field at Lion Stadium in Vernon has a fresh new look and is ready for the influx of fans and football players for the first home game Sept. 13 when the Vernon Lions face the Burkburnett Bulldogs.
The playing field has been given a complete makeover featuring new artificial turf, a retaining wall and rocks on the berm around the field.
The track and field area was moved from the south side of the football field to the practice field. "This gives us more room along the sidelines," said VHS Athletic Director and head football coach Mark Bateman.
Bateman said the refurbishing of the stadium was a result of the drought.
"There is no way we could have kept the field in playing condition with the current drought restrictions," he said.
Well water is being used in an effort to maintain the baseball and softball fields.
"Hopefully, God will bless us with enough moisture to keep these fields in pretty good shape," he said.
Paragon Sports Construction in Fort Worth began the field construction work in late March and finished the project in mid-July.
Bateman said the new field should help eliminate some injuries.
He said the Desso turf has a soft factor built in that lessens injuries and helps eliminate burns when players slide across the turf.
It is supposed to be the best turf product on the market, according to the coach.
"It is soft and feels like you are walking across grass," he said. "It is nothing like the old AstroTurf used years ago."
Bateman said that times are tough in Vernon, but the school system had money in the bank that would fund the project, and the school board voted to use it to update the field.
The $1.6 million price tag also included digging out and moving dirt from the field, installing drainage lines, removing grass from the berms and replacing it with rocks, building new berm retaining walls, and pouring concrete on the practice field for track field events.
The new field boasts a large maroon "V" with a Vernon Lion jumping through it on the 50-yard line, "Leo Brittain Field" between the 20- and 30-yard lines on both sides of the field and "LIONS" in bold letters at each end of the field near the goal posts.
"I feel very fortunate that we were able to get the turf," Bateman said. "I don't know what we would have done if we had not been able to make the improvements.