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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
Lance Coleman

Workers will come Monday to start installing artificial grass at Alcoa High School's football field. But plans for a Jumbotron video score board and a new field house are on hold, officials said.

Alcoa City Schools Director Dr. Brian Bell said the city allocated $1 million for the school system to install the turf, Jumbotron and field house.

While the artificial turf bid came in low, grading costs and the challenge of putting in a new handicapped accessible sidewalk pushed the total to $923,000.

"So now all we're able to do is the artificial turf, so we have to brainstorm ways to complete the other two projects," he said. "Yesterday we had a meeting with Alcoa Public Building Authority and they approved the bid for the artificial turf. That whole project will start this Monday. We'll go through that and it will be ready for this upcoming football season."

Tom Shamblin, director of finance for Alcoa City Schools and executive director of the Alcoa PBA, said installing turf will allow the football team to practice on the stadium field. They don't practice in the stadium now to maintain the field's quality.

"They've been practicing behind the visitors stands and it is not a full-size field they practice on, and now they'll practice on an actual regular-sized field," he said.

Josh Stephens, Alcoa High School athletic director, said the reason for the push to install artificial turf is to make the field a multi-use facility.

Currently the high school band practices in the parking lot and the middle school football team practices elsewhere.

"We're trying to keep everybody off the field. When we bring turf, it gives us more opportunities," he said.

Stephens said the band will practice on the field in the evening and the football team will practice on the field after school. In addition, the middle school team will play on the field and youth football teams can use it as well.

Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson said no one has discussed how specifically to move forward on the Jumbotron and new field house.

"In my estimation, the priority would be to get a field house," he said. "The current facilities for the team are overcrowded and in other ways inadequate. It is built for a capacity of 45 people and we have 90 to 100. It is outdated and needs to be replaced."

Johnson said there was talk of organizing a fundraising campaign to pay for the Jumbotron and the new field house.

"It will be the school and Dr. Bell's project to go forward with that," he said.

 

March 5, 2014

 

 
 

 

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