The playing surface at Phenix Citys Garrett-Harrison Stadium is about to get a major makeover.
In a move Wednesday that city council says will save money annually on maintenance and other costs, council authorized spending more than $544,000 for an artificial surface at the stadium used primarily for football games by public schools, including Central High.
The surface, manufactured by Pittsburgh-based ProGrass LLC, is in place at Troy University, Jacksonville State University, Prattville High and Colquitt County High in Georgia. It will be installed at Garrett-Harrison Stadium this year.
The field comes with a 10-year warranty and it will save the city money in the long run because maintenance, fertilizer and other costs will be eliminated or greatly reduced.
We are spending more than $100,000 a year on that field, Councilman Chris Blackshear said. And the work is being done by our Parks and Recreation staff. This will allow us to redirect that staff to other places they maintain such as the Riverwalk and other parks.
Mayor Eddie Lowe knows a little about artificial turf. Lowe, whose brother, Woodrow, is the head coach at Central, played football at the University of Alabama and nine seasons in the Canadian Football League. Many of his games were played on the artificial turf.
If this was the kind I played on when I played, I would not have voted for it, Lowe said. That stuff was as hard as concrete.
The new turf is much softer than the old surface and is sprinkled with crushed rubber.
If I had played on this stuff, I might have played longer, Lowe said as he examined a sample of the new turf.
The only local high school facility with an artificial surface is Harris County. It was installed in 2012 after the stadium was heavily damaged by a tornado. The school district reportedly spent $1.29 million to put in artificial turf and resurface the track around the field.