On the final Friday of August, the Shelbyville Golden Bears will host its season opener for the 2023 football season.
The question at hand for Shelbyville Central Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Vance is will the artificial turf playing surface at J.M. McKeand Stadium be ready to go?
“We’ve talked about when this is going to start. I am nervous about this,” said Vance. “I’ve told the companies (doing the McKeand Stadium project) we needed everything done by Aug. 1.
“The original plan was to get them in here about the middle of May, maybe right at track sectional time. We may see if we can back that up a little earlier, maybe April to get done by August. We don’t have an exact start date yet. We’re still working on that.”
The $2 million project includes replacing the dilapidated track surface and remove the natural grass for an artificial turf surface.
“It’s time,” said Vance when asked why change the McKeand Stadium playing surface now. It has been an ongoing discussion in the community for many years. “We have to redo our track. From what I’ve been told, we haven’t done any upgrades to our track for at least 20 years. Our track is not in very good shape, to the point we can’t host any big events right now.
“If we are re-doing our track, now is the time to talk about turf. The (SCS) board has agreed it is a direction we need to go.”
McKeand Stadium was a consistent track and field sectional and regional host for years but the wear and tear on the surface has forced the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) to use alternate sites.
“No. 1, (artificial turf) is good for our school community to have,” explained Vance. “It’s not just for football – soccer, band, baseball and softball can be on it. It has multipurpose use. It will be good for a lot of kids. I think our kids deserve that.
“At the same time too, we are not talking about this as a cost-saving measure because I don’t think it is in the long run. In the short term, cash flow year to year, we will save some money on paint, watering, mowing and the time of our workers to do all that.”
Shelbyville and Yorktown are the last two of the eight-school Hoosier Heritage Conference to maintain natural grass surfaces for football.
“If you look around the metro area, we are one of the last schools not to have turf,” said Vance. “It doesn’t mean it’s the reason why you get it, but there are reasons why other schools have gone to it.
“We are one of the last two in our conference to not have turf. I think it’s a good thing for our community. I think it’s a good selling point. Hopefully, it will attract people here.”
Beynon Sports will handle the new track installation.
According to Beynon, SCS has selected a track that will deliver optimal shock absorbency and superior energy return. The BSS 1000 system being installed is the company’s most popular system. The surface will be similar to what Greenfield-Central High School recently installed, according to Vance.
FieldTurf will perform the artificial turf installation and has worked in conjunction with Beynon Sports in past projects.
The turf will feature black end zones with gold lettering. The track surrounding the playing surface will be red.
The artificial surface will change the track and field set up at Shelbyville. The shot put area will be moved outside the stadium to the discus area. Long jump, high jump and pole vault will continue to be contested inside the stadium.
The turf surface will add even more appeal to McKeand Stadium as a host site with ample parking and seating and new lights. Vance would like to upgrade the scoreboard to complete the renovation.
“I think by the time this is done, with what we’ve done already here over the years with the bleachers a few years ago and the outdoor building (Lockerrooms, restrooms and concessions stand), we will have a top-of-the-line facility out there. This will cap all this off.”
Shelbyville High School is in the process of getting new boilers. A new chiller will be installed during the summer, which will lead to a project in 2024 to bring air conditioning to William L. Garrett Gymnasium.
“In terms of HVAC, the high school will be taken care of after this summer,” said Vance.
Garrett Gymnasium is already a fan- and player-favorite facility but its amenities need upgraded.
“We need to look at our lockerooms and restrooms at Garrett Gymnasium for upgrades and renovation,” said Vance. “If we get the gym air conditioned and get the lockerrooms and restrooms upgraded and updated, we can almost walk away from the gym because it will be in pretty good shape … as a matter of fact the high school in general (will be in good shape).”
Work around McKeand Stadium will be visible in the spring and summer of 2023 with parking lot work scheduled for both the high school and middle school.
“There is going to be a lot going on this summer,” said Vance. “Our facilities will be busy with the two (elementary school renovations) and the chiller at the high school, there will be a lot going on. That’s good. That’s progress.
For more on the elementary school renovations, go to https://shelbycountypost.com/local-news/664249
“I am big on our facilities. Our children deserve good facilities. Our staff deserve good facilities to work in. And I think when people come look at our communities, they look at the schools and you want your schools to look good. And they do. We have great facilities here but we are going to look at them and see how we can make them better.”
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