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What new synthetic turf means for these Hall County high school football teams
Football 2021

Friday Nights will look a lot different at about half of Hall County’s football stadiums this fall. 

Simply put: playing on grass might soon be a thing of the past. 

New synthetic playing surfaces, funded by sales taxes and bond referendums approved by Hall County voters, are on track for completion by the start of the 2021 season at four Hall County schools: Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee, East Hall and Johnson. Completion of West Hall's field was delayed but should come later in the season.  

“It’s gonna be a great new field, new atmosphere. I can’t wait for the season to get here,” Cherokee Bluff senior Sam Stribling said at The Times Sports Media Day. 

“I’m ready to play on the turf. The way you can move on the turf compared to the grass — I can’t wait,” West Hall senior defensive back Jaden White added. 

Hall County Schools Athletics Director Stan Lewis said this is part of a 10-year facilities plan for the district. Stadiums with some years on them, like West Hall and Chestatee, have received a fresh coat of paint, too. 

The five latest Hall schools to receive an artificial playing surface join North Hall, whose synthetic field came by way of private funding a few years ago at Lynn Cottrell Stadium. 

Flowery Branch will receive the new synthetic playing surface in 2022. 

That will leave Gainesville High, which plays at the immaculately kept City Park Stadium, and the three private schools in Hall as the last playing on real grass. 

While some people prefer the game being played on natural grass, the synthetic surface is the way of the future with its many benefits for durability and handling adverse weather conditions without interruption. And the upkeep is minimal, despite heavy traffic from a broad spectrum of uses for sports and activities over the course of a calendar school year. 

In addition to stadiums being used by football and soccer, there’s also band, physical education classes and junior football programs. 

“The synthetic turf holds up against all of that traffic for much longer, stays in great shape and looks fantastic,” Lewis said. “We are able to provide more access to our students and not worry about having a problematic playing surface toward the end of the year. The synthetic turf also drains really well, providing us with a viable playing surface during and after wet weather.”

Lewis said the price for the new playing surfaces ranged from $800,000 to $1 million, depending on the school. At Chestatee, for example, the upgrades also include a new eight-lane track around the playing field, while other schools will have a six-lane set up. 

By late July, Johnson High’s Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium was nearly ready for opening day, as far as the field goes. Work was still active at the time on renovations to the bleachers, concessions and restrooms. 

The playing field will make for some happy Knights. The synthetic grass is meticulously set in place and seemingly has no flaws.

At midfield, a massive Knights logo sets the stadium apart. 

Small rubber granules fill the space underneath the surface, providing adequate cushioning to the ground. 

Lewis said it’s a product from Field Turf called Cool Play, an engineered surfacing that keeps the temperature at a reasonable level. 

And, certainly, a synthetic surface means no more divots from constant wear and tear from athletes wearing cleats. 

At least some players have said they are happy about the improved field.  

Fans may like the added aesthetics it brings to the games.

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