By Evan Mohl
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Bulldawg Stadium's new turf is finally here.
Crews from Carter Construction, a Fort Worth-based company which also installed artificial, all-weather playing surfaces at Texas Tech and North Texas, began moving and unrolling the turf Tuesday morning. No exact completion date has been set, but construction takes two to three weeks. A Bulldawg football camp is set to take place at the stadium the first week in August.
"We're excited," athletic director and football coach Jack Welch said. "I went by there this morning and the surface just looks great."
There won't be many visible differences in the 50-ounce, 2½-inches-tall monofilament style of turf. A solid white stripe will be placed for the media line and the end zone words – Cove and Dawgs – will be two-toned with a shadow. The adjustment enhances the field's cosmetic appeal, Welch said.
But the real reason for the new turf won't be noticeable to the naked eye. Tears in the old surface, especially in the end zone, made players susceptible to injury.
"The real reason is safety for our kids," Welch said. "That's the number one concern."
The previous playing surface, called AstroPlay and installed in 2001 by the now-defunct Southwest Recreational Industries Inc., was no longer under warranty. The field had a shelf-life of eight years.
Copperas Cove Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Rose Cameron proposed a budget amendment of $415,000 to replace the turf and make minor repairs to the drainage system. The school board approved the expenditure in April.
"We're dealing with a number of students who will be on the field," Cameron said. "Adults are also out there working with these students and we would never want anyone to be injured."
AstroPlay and Southwest Recreational Industries Inc., had been linked to toxic levels of lead in its turf. A report published by the Associated Press in December found lead levels far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's standard for soil at Birdville ISD's Stadium and Odessa's Ratliff Stadium. Both used AstroPlay.
Killeen ISD's Leo Buckley Stadium also features AstroPlay bought from Southwest Recreational Industries Inc.. KISD bought its turf in 2003 and had the field tested in January. The turf was declared safe for play by Burcham Environmental Services at a cost of $3,000.
Copperas Cove received a recommendation from the Texas Association of School Boards to not test its turf. Cameron maintained that the new playing surface purchase had nothing to do with fears of toxic turf.
"It had nothing to do with lead," Cameron said. "Our turf was in need of repair and had completed its warranty. It was time."
Cameron began an extensive search for new turf back in March. She selected Carter Construction because the company is local and has a proven track record. Carter Construction installed new turf at Georgetown High School and Leander, which both Welch and Cameron visited.
"They were really pristine fields," Welch said. "That's what we wanted here."
It also helped that the bid came in lower than the estimates from other companies. The $395,000 for new turf is about half the cost of the field in 2001.
Cameron said the reason for the lower price tag was a result of a crucial decision eight years ago. Copperas Cove ISD decided to purchase an elastic layer that lies between the ground base and the actual turf. The 19 millimeter e-layer provides more cushioning for players – thus preventing injury – and also adds further protection for the drainage and gravel beneath the turf.
"That really helped our cost," Cameron said. "It proved to be a wise decision not only for money but because it really gives us more protection for our athletes."
And it has the athletic department smiling.
"It's a real credit to Dr. Cameron, who really spearheaded this thing and did her research," Welch said. "We already had one of the best fields in the country because everyone – us, guests and opponents – loved playing here and always complimented the playing surface. Now it's even better."
Contact Evan Mohl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564.