The changes have begun at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Work crews started ripping up the turf on Earl Campbell Field this week as they prepare to lay a dual-purpose turf that will serve soccer and football.
Coupled with this work, the district is moving forward with upgrades to John Tyler High School’s track and field.
Both changes are the result of a somewhat controversial decision made by the Tyler ISD school board in April to expand Earl Campbell Field and downsize the track there.
At the time, officials said the change would allow TISD to better serve its student athletes and get the most use out of the field.
After complaints that the change would render the stadium’s track useless for meets — especially the Earl Campbell/Emma Barrett Relays — the district sped up its plan to upgrade John Tyler’s track and field to serve, among other things, those relays.
One lane is being added to the track to make it eight lanes, a UIL standard. In addition, the district is creating individual stations for the long jump, triple jump and pole vault events. Previously one station served all three events.
The new separate stations will enable the district to have all these events simultaneously if they want to instead of one at a time as before, Robinett said.
The areas for discus, shot put, javelin and high jump will remain where they are for now, but likely be moved in the future.
For spectators, a large concession stand and restroom area is being built on one side of the track. This will serve primarily the home crowd and have six restroom stalls for men and six for women.
Another smaller concession stand and restroom area will be built on the visitors’ side.
Home side bleachers will be 15 rows deep and seat about 1,500 people, Robinett said. Visitors’ side will be 10 rows deep and serve about 1,000 people. Previous seating was about 300 for home side and 150 for visitors.
As part of the upgrades, the district is installing new lighting. Four poles with 14 lights each will be added.
Robinett said the lights will be brighter and more energy efficient than before. They also will have a feature on them so community members can press a button to turn on lower lights for walking. A timer will turn off the lights after a certain amount of time.
The $1.7 million for the work is coming from unused bond money of which the district had more than $19 million.
Although, the district is not replacing the grass field with turf at this point, if a bond passes at some point for high school upgrades, that likely would be a part of that work, Robinett said.
With the exception of the concession stands, all upgrades should be finished by mid-August so that football practices can continue as usual, Robinett said.
At Rose Stadium, crews started this week removing the 11-year-old turf on Earl Campbell Field. The dual-purpose field as planned will be 120 yards long and 65 yards wide. In order to widen it, the district is cutting out four of the seven track lanes, leaving three for walking and the Texas Rose Festival Parade.
Tyler ISD Athletic Director Rod Kaspar said the field will serve middle school, sub varsity and varsity football and junior varsity and varsity soccer.
With the new turf, the d-zones on the end of the field will have each of the high school names whereas previously the names were in the end zones.
The project is costing the district $561,000 and should be complete by Aug. 15.
“With the new lights that we had put in and the new turf, it’s going to be like a whole new stadium,” Kaspar said. “It’s going to give us (the) opportunity to have more football playoff games.”