The fields are almost finished.
Saint Stephen's athletic program will now fully accommodate its athletes through the creative, innovative and highly advanced design of the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields.
Tod Creneti, Saint Stephen's head football coach and assistant athletic director, was a strong supporter of the field's construction. He said the school is working to provide the absolute best for its student-athletes.
"One of the things (the addition of the fields) should do is convey to them that we are giving our kids the very best we can, and we are putting them in the best situation to be successful," he said.
The new stadium will boast 800 seats total, including 200 VIP folding seats.
Field lights will be 60 feet tall, which will ensure proper lighting in all areas of the field.
The regulation, rubberized eight-lane track features Star Trac, a widely used product around the United States and one of the fastest running surfaces on the market.
The new scoreboard is 4 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and will feature a full-color video screen.
The complex was supposed to be ready in time for the annual homecoming football game Saturday, but according to Steve Arrington, construction manager, wet weather forced opening day to be pushed back.
"The primary difficulty with this project is the effect of the weather. (There was a) historically excessive amount of rainfall this summer, (so) we simply try to work with the weather," he said. "A single rain event is
not a big problem, as the site drains fairly quickly and allows work to resume. However, repeated rainfall has a cumulative effect on the work as the ground becomes saturated and therefore less able to handle the rain that falls day after day.
"While we hoped to have the work completed in time for the homecoming football game, the days lost to the rainy weather has caused the completion date to move to late October," he said.
Once this top-notch facility is ready to go, how will it work to the advantage of the athletes?
Athletic Director Carlos Boothby said the cutting-edge playing surface will help the football, soccer and lacrosse teams when the stadium opens Oct. 25.
"That's a surface that a lot of teams won't get to practice on. We will practice on it and will be used to playing on it, whereas a lot of other teams won't. So, they're not going to be used to the speed of the field, or, in soccer and lacrosse, the way the ball bounces," Boothby said. "I think (this type of turf) quickens the game a little bit."
Plenty of schools have artificial turf fields, but few have a lawn as luscious as the one in Saint Stephen's backyard. The pitch is a hybrid blend of monofilament -- a fishing-line substance -- and slitfilm, which is what VCR tapes are made out of, if you remember what a VCR tape is.
Boothby said this uber-progressive hybrid blend is the best surface for multiple sports.
"The monofilament will stand up like like grass, while the slitfilm will lie down, which will control the (rubber pellet) spray you see on TV all the time," he said. "Also, there will be a true roll (of the ball) for soccer, football and lacrosse, which is why the hybrid works best."
Boothby said going to games will be more fun once matches begin at the Moore Athletic Complex.
The Falcons "will be under the lights, on campus, with the pep band in the stands and the cheerleaders," he said. "I think even more people will come. We had good crowds at Palma Sola, but the fact that it's on campus, under the lights just adds (to the experience)."
Creneti said the turf will make life for the groundskeepers much easier.
"The turf is aligned for three sports year-round. We don't have to get out and paint; we don't have to fertilize. Any group can come on any time of the year and utilize it for three different sports, boys and girls," Creneti said.
He said the turf will drain more efficiently and the field will stay in great shape.
"We don't have to worry about bugs taking over, or any standing water. These fields are designed to be able to drain 14 inches of water an hour, which is a phenomenal amount."
Creneti said the new complex only confirms the athletic program is trending upward.
"It's an affirmation for the athletic program that people have faith that we are moving (our sports program) in the right direction and that the school sees it's important to have a facility out there that is equal to the quality of everything else we have here at this school," he said.
"We definitely have a good, safe playing surface that we are not worried about from month-to-month, week-to-week or day-to-day, based on the elements," Creneti said. "It gives us a great place to train and get ready, so I see it as an advantage all the way around. It's something we can get excited about across the board."