Pirate Stadium will have synthetic turf

Add Granbury High School to the list of schools going to synthetic turf for football stadiums.

After a lengthy discussion Monday night, the school board voted 5-1 to replace grass at Pirate Stadium with synthetic turf – the same used at Cowboys Stadium.

The estimated cost is $900,000. It should be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

The turf’s life is about eight to 10 years, officials said. There’s routine maintenance such as sweeping and about a $3,500 price tag for reconditioning every few years.

School board Mark Jackson said he was “sold” on the idea but didn’t feel the timing was right. He said the school is in the middle of a strategic plan that will identify where dollars should be spent. He also said he was “tired” of his wife complaining about desks and chairs collapsing in GISD and nothing done to address those concerns. Furthermore, he’s concerned about money – or lack of – coming from the state to help fund education.

Other trustees expressed concerns, but Jackson was alone when it came time to vote.

Hellas, the Austin company that will install the turf, showed photos of projects at nearby schools such as Godley, Joshua and Venus.

“If those districts can do it for their students, surely we can for ours,” board President Micky Shearon said.

School Superintendent James Largent made the pitch that in reality the cost of the turf would be about half – some $415,000. The school will be saving on water, fertilizer and other costs.

Also, Largent said, “A sense of pride can’t be measured with dollars.”

The pride factor was addressed by Pirate Head Football Coach Scotty Pugh who compared Granbury High’s stadium and field to a Class 2A school. Granbury is 4A.

He said a young family driving the area and looking at football stadiums would rate Granbury fourth behind Glen Rose, Aledo and Godley. He compared Granbury to Cleburne and Tolar.

Pugh, Largent and board members talked about other programs, such as the band, cheerleaders and drill team, able to use the field more because of durability. There was mention of subvarsity football teams using the new field, even the pee wees.

Also, it was said the field could become known as “a classroom” instead of just a football field because so many events and activities could be held there.

The synthetic turf consists of monofilament fibers, a “high-dollar plastic,” the company says. It can be 15 to 20 degrees hotter than grass.

Hellas, the company, said the turf is safer than grass. “There are never any potholes and divots,” Randy Bullock said.

The total cost of the energy conservation program and new turf is about $5.5 million, but the savings will be about $2.65 million. The school will be replacing old air conditioners, and inefficient lighting and water usage.

To fund the project, the school will spend about $2.8 million out of its reserves and will finance about $2.65 million at an interest rate of 3.15 percent. The $2.65 million will be recouped through savings, such as lower electricity costs, school spokesman Jeff Meador said. The project will not increase the tax rate, he said.