MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Sparkman High School is a construction zone right now, with changes not only to its fine arts facilities but its athletic fields on the way. On Wednesday, athletic director Jason Watts gave WHNT News 19 a sneak peek at the new turf field and track going in now behind the school.
"It's been a lot of fun just to watch," he said.
Monday, crews began turf installation and the field is now a gorgeous shade of green.
"Now, they're going in and they'll be stitching all the seams together, coming back into install the hash marks, the numbers, the artwork in the end zones," he explained. "The crew is still working on the eight-lane track... they're putting the first layer of the paint and sealer down."
Down a path behind the bleachers, crews are also putting in an area for field events like the high jump and shotput that can upgrade the school's ability to host track and field events and offer more practice space to the students.
Watt said all these changes are going to mean a world of difference for the athletes. He keeps a sharp eye on the more than $2 million project's progress.
"If it rained, there were certain areas that stayed very soggy. So it's not the best situation with footing," he said about the former grass field. Referring to the new turf he added, "A surface like this will maintain perfectly level, no indentions, no waves."
He added, "As far as head injuries, the actual surface reacts better to impact. For athletes, it's the level of safety that will be there. And there are no rainouts. It's the same playing surface all the time."
He can't wait to see the athletes' faces when they finally get to use these facilities.
"All of our kids are super excited. Our coaches," Watts said, "about having a first-class track that we can host events. It's going to be a really big boost for our track and field program."
And the district will benefit too.
"This will allow us to have a field to be able to use year round without having to worry about it being torn up or the maintenance."
The field and track should be finished by July 27. Practice begins at the beginning of August. Watts said it's ahead of schedule now, and the first game to be played on it will be an August 23 pre-season game with a regular season game against Hazel Green on August 30.
Meanwhile, work is beginning on the 18-month project to construct a fine arts center adjacent to the field across from the ninth grade academy. It will include a new auditorium and band building with a glass crosswalk.
Sparkman High is also redoing its bus/car ride drop-off area, and making other improvements to the building.
Leaders said it's a construction zone now, but it will be worth it to see the students benefit from the improvements.