By Kevin Posival

Harker Heights Herald

For three years, the Killeen Independent School District put off replacing the turf at Leo Buckley Stadium, though the district knew that time was coming.

When the administration asked athletic director Tom Rogers if the turf could hold one more year, he had to say no.

"They only warranty it for eight years, and we've done a good job of taking care of it, adding rubber to it ... to extend the life of it," Rogers said of the 10-year-old turf. "But, we've got to a point where we we're having seam failure, and when you have that, you have places were kids can catch their toes."

Work to replace the turf, originally installed in 2002 as one of numerous other upgrades done to Leo Buckley Stadium, is set to begin Monday and finish July 6. The 50-yard pieces of turf at Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker high schools will be replaced.

"We got to a point where the fibers had worn down, so we couldn't really add any rubber because that's what we'd be playing on, and there's not very good footing in that foam rubber," Rogers said.

"We got all the life out of it that we could. Everybody's said they've never seen turf that was 10 years old that looked that good."

Replacing the turf has been an item on the school district's strategic facility plan for the last three years, but its longevity allowed the district to put the project on hold until this year.

Rogers said replacing turf at Leo Buckley is going to cost the district about $329,000, and the entire project, including the replacement of the smaller pieces at Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker, will cost the district about $569,000.

Rogers has also been shopping around what it would cost to install turf in the smaller stadiums at Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker, but said that was a project for much later down the road, estimating it would cost the district about $800,000 per site for the turf and infrastructure construction.

"I got this and I was real pleased with that," Rogers said. "I didn't really have to go in and beg for it. I put it on the strategic facility plan three years ago and so for two years, they've said, 'Can we play another year' and I've said, 'Yes.' ... This year, I said, 'We've got to do it this year.' And they were fine with it."

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