It might look like a mess now, but construction crews plan to have the new synthetic-turf playing surface covering Patriot Field by July 26.
It might look like a mess now, but construction crews plan to have the new synthetic-turf playing surface covering Patriot Field by July 26.
MADISON - Construction has begun on renovations to the playing surface at Patriot field on the Madison-Ridgeland Academy campus.

Work crews on Tuesday were busy laying layers of gravel and concrete that will support the new synthetic-turf field, which was delivered to the school last week.

"It's all very exciting," Director of Athletics Richard Duease said. "The field is something that we have been talking about since 2009, and we decided it was time to bite the bullet and do it - and it's going to be great."

The project is expected to cost roughly $700,000 and is being contracted by Picayune-based Diamond Construction. The turf, which is made of polyethylene fiber with three-ply backing, comes from Madison-based EnviroTurf and will be similar to the playing surfaces found at Jackson Prep, Jackson Academy and Madison Central.

"Academic facilities are always our first priority," MRA headmaster Termie Land said Tuesday. "But with the completion of Thompson Hall last year, we felt like we had met out immediate needs and could move forward with some athletic facility upgrades."

The field project is expected to be finished by July 25, when construction crews will begin the process of resurfacing the track that surrounds the field with red polyurethane - work that will have the quality of the track match quality of the synthetic-turf field.

Both of those projects are a part of a 5-year plan for athletic facility upgrades at the school, Duease said.

Planning for other projects that have not been finalized include aesthetic improvements to the football field (including a bricked press box, bricked visitor's-side bleachers and landscaping), building an indoor practice facility for baseball and renovating the basketball gymnasium.

All of those goals, Duease said, are attainable within the next 3-4 years and would set the school up with some of the most impressive facilities in the Magnolia State.

"I've been amazed at how the Lord has blessed our school," Duease said. "I'm even more amazed at how He has continued to bless our school each year and allowed us the flexibility to continue to push forward with our plans."

The school has already built a state-of-the-art weight room, which is used by all of the athletic teams, near the north end of Patriot Field. It also recently purchased six acres of land adjacent to school property that will not be available for the next 2-3 years.

Last year, Duease said the school had 50-55 players try out for the varsity football team, and 70-75 go out for the middle school team.

"We're running out of room," he said. "That's why we're moving forward. The new playing field will be able to support everything from elementary school physical education classes to girls' soccer to varsity football."