In addition to monitoring the work his team put in during the offseason, Lower Richland football coach Rodney Barr has been paying close attention to the work at the new football stadium as he drives in each day.
On Tuesday, workers were putting the finishing touches on installing the new synthetic turf at the stadium.
The new scoreboard is in place in the north end zone, new lights are up and everything will be ready to go for the Diamond Hornets’ home opener against Airport on Sept. 1.
“The field is going to be an opportunity for not only the kids, but the community, to enjoy. It is real special,” Barr said. “There is excitement of riding by every day, going from seeing dirt on the field, now to turf and scoreboard up. The kids have been asking about it every day. We just want to put a product on the field that the community and everybody can be proud of.”
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Lower Richland went winless in Barr’s first season but has more optimism in year two with the stadium upgrades adding to the excitement.
Lower Richland receiver Deamondre Goodwin won’t miss the problems with the old grass surface.
“It was really bad. I remember one game we had to put dirt in the middle of the field and it caused players to slip and it was dangerous,” Goodwin said. “I think the turf will be more smooth for us cutting and juking like that. It is going to really change the culture for Lower Richland football. I hope it brings more fans out and less injuries on the field.”
The new turf and scoreboard are part of the first phase of renovations at the stadium. A new press box and seats are expected for next season.
Upgrades to the facilities at other Richland One schools are also planned. It’s part of a $35.9 million district-wide improvement project.
A.C. Flora and Eau Claire had turf installed for football practice fields. Flora also will host boys and girls soccer and lacrosse matches on campus.
Memorial and Bolden stadiums will undergo facelifts for next season. The stadiums, which host home football games for A.C. Flora, Dreher, Eau Claire, Keenan, Columbia and C.A. Johnson, will be getting new turf, seats, scoreboard, press box, concession stands and parking.
Keenan will get its own new 5,000-seat stadium for the 2018 season.
“It is real important,” Barr said of improvements across the district. “These are the tools you need to be successful. This is an example of how much they care about the programs, schools and kids. That is all you can ask for as football coaches.”