By the time the spring rolls around next year, residents and community members at Fort Bragg can expect to see something new at Hedrick Stadium – synthetic turf.
Construction is currently underway to give Fort Bragg’s premier stadium a much-needed facelift.
According to Mike Desmone, chief of sports and fitness at the post’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the decision was made to invest in the field by post leadership. The change is expected to give the athletic field a new surface, similar to the one currently at Towle Stadium.
“The decision was actually made last year, so it’s been a lengthy process to get where we’re at right now,” Desmone said. “Basically, it’s a $750,000 project that will see the replacement of the turf inside the track.”
Desmone said the project began Sept. 28, and has an expected completion date of March 31, 2016.
He said placing turf on Hedrick stadium has numerous advantages for the post and especially community members who use the stadium.
“There are a lot of advantages,” Desmone said. “Initially the upfront cost is obviously more than grass, but when you take into account the expenses and everything associated with maintaining natural grass over a period of time, synthetic turf is actually more cost-effective.
“Environmentally, you’re talking about cutting out the water consumption required to water the field, which equates to 500,000 to 1 million gallons a year. As far as playability on the field, currently you’re looking at approximately 20 to 25 hours per week, but with synthetic turf, you’re looking at about 60 hours, which nearly triples the usage capacity,” he explained.
Desmone pointed out that because of Fort Bragg’s robust intramural sports program; it’s difficult to engage in field rotation, which allows a previously used field time to “heal,” as in re-growing damaged surfaces. The new surface should provide a way of overcoming that obstacle and saving necessary manpower.
“With synthetic turf, you don’t have to worry about that because there is no grass to cut. So the manpower that was required to cut grass or any type of horticultural aspects to keep it healthy — pesticides or other products, all of that gets eliminated,” he said.
He said improving the field gives the sports and fitness program a venue to better accommodate the community and provide a field that is at a consistent standard each year. He added that another benefit is that because of the durability of the synthetic turf surface, community members should be able to play on it for at least 20 years.
Desmone said once the renovation project is completed at Hedrick Stadium, it will go into the intramural sports rotation as one of its playable fields. He added that there have not been any sports events played at the stadium on the past 10 years.
“Hedrick Stadium will be used for flag football, soccer and lacrosse,” Desmone explained. He said there are no plans for the post to form a lacrosse league, but there is a lacrosse following in the local area and Hedrick Stadium will provide them with a place to play.
“There are Soldiers who play and people who play at Towle Stadium, but that field is not lined for lacrosse. This one will be,” he said.
Currently, Towle Stadium is used for intramural flag football, soccer and rugby. The other field that is currently used for flag football is near Hercules Gym at Pope Field.
“That field will be the next one to receive turf. “Hopefully somewhere in fiscal year ’16, that project will start. So, we’ll have three synthetic turf fields here at Fort Bragg,” Desmone said.
He said construction at the stadium is not expected to directly affect the monthly 5K walk/run or the upcoming Fort Bragg 10-Miler, which is set for Nov. 5.
“It does affect the execution of the 5K because we usually set the sponsor tents up on the field and we run or walk around the track. Basically, we’re going to still use the same course along Longstreet road, but the vendors will actually be set up across the street where the old, Lee Fieldhouse was,” Desmone explained.
He said he and the rest of the sports staff are looking forward to the project’s completion.
“It gives us a field that’s all-weather, all-purpose and we won’t have to worry about down time or any of the other things we currently worry about with the grass fields.” he said.