Spartans getting turf this summer

Greater Atlanta Christian will become the first school in Gwinnett County to have artificial turf installed in its football stadium this summer.

The turf is expected to be finished the second week in August, just in time for the Spartans' football scrimmage Aug. 18.

"It's a great opportunity for our teams," GAC athletic director Tim Vick said. "We invest quite a bit of money to have exceptional fields. We already anticipated the idea of going to synthetic turf, so we decided to do it now. Our stadium field has experienced a lot of wear with football and lacrosse. This will be good for it."

The project started in May and will take nine weeks, which includes four weeks of base work for the field. The field will be taken down eight inches and a drainage system will be put in place. By mid-July the company FieldTurf will come in to lay down the turf that is manufactured in Calhoun.

"We were having a tough time with the growth of football and lacrosse that the field wasn't getting time to recover and this will help that," GAC project administrator Brett Harte said.

FieldTurf will install a type of turf called Duraspine PRO, considered the most durable, softest artificial turf fibers in the industry. This latest version of the turf was recently installed at the Meadowlands Stadium where the 2014 Super Bowl will be played.

The project will cost $750,000, which also includes improvements to the surrounding track and enhancing the locker rooms that will now be used for practice and games.

With the turf in place, the varsity and junior varsity football teams will be able to practice and play their games on the turf, alleviating practice space on other parts of the campus.

"It was as much about lacrosse as it was our football team," Harte said.

The Norcross private school will be the only school in Gwinnett County to have turf on its game field. Buford already has artificial turf on its practice fields, but opted not to use it on the stadium field.

No Gwinnett County public school has artificial turf on their fields despite the growing trend in neighboring counties like Forsyth, North Fulton and Cobb. In a story by the Daily Post in February, the county said there was no immediate plans to install artificial turf at the 19 public high schools.

"Our fields take a pounding," said Mike Emery, the director of athletics, activities and community schools for the Gwinnett County Public Schools system. "That always gets into a discussion about artificial turf and that's probably going to come up at some point. And that's something we need. But you look at the economy and other stuff that we're facing, how is that going to happen?"