This year, all three high school stadiums will have the grass replaced with artificial turf, prompting graduations to be held at the Georgia International Horse Park. The implementation of the turf will begin in the Spring and will finish up some time in the summer.
Having the turf replaced is something that will benefit all three high schools - Rockdale, Salem and Heritage - and the teams that play on them. The stadium fields are used for soccer, lacrosse, band competitions and more, but the football teams will likely be the first to use the new turf.
"Having the turf will give us a chance to get some work on a regulated field," Venson Elder, RCHS head football coach, said. "Up until now we could only use the stadium field on Thursday walk through. Now we can have our [receivers and quarterbacks] practice the proper alignments to get their timing down. We will still do a majority of practice on the grass fields."
Elder added that the team will be able to get a lot done preparing for their opponents with the new turf.
Wendell Early, Heritage head football coach, said that he can't wait to get started on the new turf. He says that turf is much easier to maintain than grass.
"There is little prep and little maintenance," Early said. "There is some maintenance like, brushing it and such; but overall, it is very easy to maintain. And no painting!"
More importantly, the new turf will keep the county's pockets a little thicker now, as the costs for keeping up the fields is less for turf than it is for grass.
Phil Budensiek, chief operations officer for Rockdale County public schools, estimates the costs of the upkeep of the fields this year to be around $228,216 in comparison to the usual $300,000 to $325,000 they spend.