Tiger officials hopeful football field could be used by end of month.
As usually seems to be the case these days, the rainy weather is not fully cooperating.
However, work on the new football, track and soccer facility at the old St. James High School football facility continues to progress, and actually has intensified over the past few days.
The company installing the St. James turf is ATG Sports. It’s the same company which installed Rolla High School’s synthetic turf at Lions Memorial Field last year as well as the company that is currently in the early stages of installing two synthetic turf fields at Missouri S&T, including the Miners’ game field at Allgood-Bailey Stadium.
At St. James, the new turf foundation has been laid and several yards of the new synthetic turf is now down. In addition, a 16-10 retaining wall has been erected on the south end, as part of the complex’s tree line had to be removed to expand the track to regulation size.
Also, the Tiger scoreboard has be switched to the opposite end of the field, putting it closer to fans in the bleachers. And before any of that work got underway, improvements to the Tiger Field House/locker room area was made.
“We lost a couple of days but it’s really starting to take off,” St. James High Athletic Director Phil West said of the project. “The big thing we’re waiting for is the weather.”
However, the work crews have beaten the weather in much of the time-consuming work, and now much of the existing construction can be done in light rain.
West is still hopeful that the football field will be in use by the end of the month, with the track shortly to follow.
“The football field itself I think in a couple of weeks we could start using it for camps and practices,” West said. “The track...it depends on the weather. We’re hoping by the end of June or the first of July everything will be completed.”
One thing is sure - St. James Tiger fans will certainly see a different look on their home field.
“It’s going to be a dramatically different look,” West said. “You’ve got to actually get on the field to see how far back we went into the tree line; for the track. And the huge retaining wall on the south end. It’s pretty interesting to go over and see it.”
In addition to the synthetic turf, the Tigers will have a regulation track for the first time. Previously the track that circled the football field was just 375 meters and made of asphalt. It will now be the regular, 400-meter track with a rubberized surface.
While their track was being upgraded this season, the Tigers traveled daily to Rolla to use the Rolla Community Track facility. And the stop-gap measure worked very well, as the Tigers sent their largest contingent in years to the Missouri Class 3 Track and Field Championships last week.
“I want to thank Rolla Public Schools,” West said. “I want to thank their track coaches, (Rolla High Athletic Director) Cathy Shoup and the rest of the administration for allowing us to bus our students to practice on their track. That was huge; we had 11 kids make it to state.”
West said the plans for the 2014-15 school year is to host two middle school track meets and two high school track meets.
In addition, the new field will be the new, full-time home for the St. James boys’ and girls’ soccer squads. The Tiger boys’ soccer squad is scheduled to begin its first season as a full-fledged varsity program in 2014-15, after playing a junior varsity schedule last fall.
The soccer teams have been playing on the natural-grass field at the St. James Middle School.
When work is complete in St. James, it will leave Pacific as the lone Four Rivers Conference school without synthetic turf on its football field.
“Pacific has got a beautiful (natural grass) field, with Bermuda grass,” West said. “But I would expect them not to be too far behind everyone else (in going to synthetic turf).”