SYLACAUGA, Ala. – As the 2017-18 school year inches closer, improvements to Sylacauga City Schools’ athletic facilities continue.
Vast overhauls of the current baseball and softball facilities began months ago. SCS superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman told SylacaugaNews.com the nearly $1,000,000 in renovations were greatly needed. The softball facility, located at Pinecrest Elementary on Hwy. 280, will receive new dugouts and backstop, concession stands, a new press box, a completely re-sodded field, and a new irrigation system. The baseball complex will also be home to new dugouts, a concession stand and press box, new exterior fencing and entrance into the stadium, additional accessible handicap parking, and new seating.
Both complexes have seen improvements in the recent past prior to the current construction. The two complexes are equipped with new scoreboards, indoor hitting facilities, and new lighting. The baseball team will receive a new dressing room and restrooms added on to the already existing indoor hitting facility, and the it also recently received a new irrigation system.
The partnership with the city and the local Babe Ruth organization will be a great benefit when it comes time for maintenance. “We want to have custodial support and maintenance support from the school system, and the city is providing service to us to as far as maintenance and goes,” Freeman explained. “Those partnerships are really positive for us in the long term in regards to maintaining the stadium.”
Freeman said the school system refused to show favoritism to one sport over the other throughout the process. “One of the main things we were interested in was providing the same excellent, comparable facilities for both our girls and boys,” he said.
Many students will benefit from these renovations. Three school system baseball teams and two system softball teams will play on the fields, not to mention all of the city’s youth who choose to play Babe Ruth baseball next spring. These projects are set to be completed in January and be ready to host the school’s baseball and softball teams next season.
The appearance of facilities, both academic and athletic, are a paramount priority to Freeman. He explained how all Hwy. 280 traffic is able to view Pinecrest and the softball field, and the amount of traffic that drives along Hwy. 21 on a daily basis seeing SHS, Legion Stadium, and Nichols-Lawson Middle School. He said upgrades to facilities show taxpayers their dollars are going to benefit the youth of the community on a daily basis. He said, “It’s important for people to see that what they’re doing to support the schools is noticeable, and shows their tax dollars go towards giving our students the best of the best.” Overall, renovations to the baseball and softball facilities cost nearly 1.3 million dollars.
Some may say high schools in general are becoming way too involved in athletics as opposed to other aspects of a student’s life in a school system. Freeman denied that claim. He said athletics is one of three pillars of what will help a student. The other two are academics and arts. “Through the course of our capital projects, we have touched all of those areas,” he explained. He went on to note the construction of NLMS, the new expansion of SHS, and recent work done to Legion Stadium. “There has been much commitment from the BOE to improve the facilities of the schools and their programs on the academics and arts side,” he said.
Legion Stadium, however, is still under construction and renovation work. Many noticed on Friday, July 28, as the SHS band performed, the visitor side bleachers were missing which caused a stir.
The plan is to have new bleachers and press boxes constructed by the kickoff of football season which Freeman said will happen. The concrete pad for the bleachers has already been poured. Workers are waiting on the delivery of the bleachers which will be assembled promptly. The new bleachers will be handicap accessible and provide much better care for all in attendance on Friday nights. New bathrooms have been placed in the stadium, air conditioning has been added to the press box, and drainage problems have been addressed in the off-season.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.