School Specifies Public Play Area as Part of Synthetic Turf Install

Paul Steinbach Headshot
Shs Football 35
Photo courtesy of Branscum Construction

Somerset (Ky.) High School football games are family affairs — so much so that fans are encouraged to cross the 400-meter, equal-quadrant track that surrounds the varsity field (located at Meece Middle School) and take in games while seated on their own chairs behind an end zone.

Over the years, it became tradition for children to take advantage of the large radius of grass between the field’s endline and track to play pick-up football during varsity games. When the school district converted to synthetic turf in 2021, officials suggested permanent inlaid markings for a mini-field, and RBS Design Group Architecture in Owensboro was happy to oblige — eventually.

“It was in those discussions that they were telling me how they use the field, how they want to use the field, and can we provide an area for these kids to play?” RBS president and architect Craig Thomas recalls. “I’m always a little bit cautious about bringing the public onto the field. As an architect, you’re always looking for separation. When you have a client telling you that they don’t want that separation, you have to understand what they do and how they do things.”

The AstroTurf surface accommodates two fields, the regulation-size one used by the Briar Jumpers and a perpendicular 40-yarder (including two 5-yard end zones) for the kids. According to Thomas, the feature has received so much attention (including from ESPN) that he’s consulted with several additional districts about adding ancillary markings to their track-bound fields — most often to enhance practice functionality. “Obviously, after being there and seeing it, I was a lot more comfortable,” he says of the Somerset game-day experience. “It’s truly a community event. This would not be a good fit for all communities, but I believe it’s a great fit for this community.”

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