Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’ in sports complex improvements
The student-athletes in Bibb County will see and feel a noticeable change when they step on the fields at the Ed Defore Sports Complex.
Bibb County Athletics is finishing up a project to renovate the football and soccer fields at the complex. Athletic Director Barney Hester said that the project started about four months ago but has been in the works for awhile.
“Conversations started at a retreat last year that they wanted to look at ways to improve the facilities at Ed Defore,” he said. “We are putting artificial turf on the soccer field and the football field.”
Fields will have lines for both sports in order to play more games at the facility. Middle school football games will be played on both fields and junior varsity soccer can be played on both fields, though that may not occur this upcoming season as they are looking to add additional bleachers to the soccer field.
The fields will be using state of the art technology, Hester said. “We chose the turf but what we did with that was we put a pad underneath there. It is called a Brock Pad. On the football field we are using a new product that Brock has just come out with called Brockfill.”
The padding underneath is similar to the kinds that the NFL and other major sports organizations have been testing to figure out how to reduce injuries associated with the playing surface. The Brockfill is a cooling agent made from wood chips in Hazelhurst, Georgia, that will go on the football field to help keep the temperature of the field down during the hot summer months.
The upgrades will cost $2 million dollars and the funding will come from the ESPLOST funds. Hester said the material choices were made based on safety, and not cost.
“When you are dealing with turf it is somewhat more expensive but I don’t think you can take a lesser product,” he said. “You always have to look at the dollars and cents but if you are going to spend, then you have to spend on safety over aesthetics.”
Tripp Youngblood, the head athletic trainer for Peach County High School, said he’s glad that Bibb County chose to add the additional padding underneath the turf.
“It is good that Bibb County is going in this direction with trying to use the latest and greatest technology. That is great for their athletes,” Youngblood said. “That is the first I have heard of a high school system going with some of that technology.”
The complex will also have a concession stand and bathrooms added to the soccer field. The sound system at the football field will also be upgraded so that people can not only hear the announcers better but also allow them to play music.
Westside head coach Sheddrick “Spoon” Risper said that the upgrades will hopefully encourage fans and students to come and support their teams.
“I think it will create more exciting atmosphere, more entertaining and I think more people will start coming out,” he said. “Kids need to be cheered on. They need to know people are in their corner. Sometimes we go out of town and they see the big crowds at other places have. Our kids in Macon they want that same type of support.”
The project is expected to be finished by the end of the 2019 school year. The turf for the soccer field is already done and ready for action. Most of what is left is fences being put up around the field as well as the concession stand and bathrooms.
The goal is to try and get the football field ready by the start of the middle school soccer season in the mid-February and help turn the complex into one of the best in state, Hester said.
“We are really trying to turn it into a first class facility.” he said.