COVINGTON, Ga. — For the first time since 2019, Homer Sharp Stadium is getting a facelift beginning in December 2022. During a Newton County School System’s Board of Education on Tuesday, board members voted 4-1 in approval of artificial turf being installed for Sharp Field.
The vote greenlighted a contract for Sourcewell to do the job with Sports Turf being in the company providing the actual playing surface to be installed.
Approving turf installation comes less than a month after the board’s Oct. 25 meeting in which board members approved the purchase of LED lights for the stadium.
NCSS superintendent Samantha Fuhrey was thrilled with the board’s approval of such renovations.
“We are incredibly excited that Sharp Stadium will be upgraded with turf and new stadium lights," Fuhrey said. "Both items have been on our wish list for a while."
The turf installation comes with a $1.3 million price tag. The price includes all tools, equipment and labor needed to complete the job. Field goal posts, soccer goals, play clock and all maintenance are also accounted for.
Fuhrey credited the ESPLOST as a proponent to make Sharp renovations possible.
"The ESPLOST penny is extraordinarily important to our school system and community; it helps to remove the tax burden for capital projects from our property owners by distributing the expense to anyone who makes a purchase in Newton County," Fuhrey said. "We remain grateful to those who continue to support projects like these by voting to support E-SPLOST. "
Though ESPLOST will ultimately pay for the renovations, the initial funding source will be from general funds. The BOE approved this during its Aug. 9, 2022 meeting.
“To complete the project sooner, the board of education approved the use of general funds to complete the project,” NCSS Director of Public Relations Sherri Davis told The Covington News. “These general funds will be repaid with ESPLOST funds. The school board approved a resolution stating that ESPLOST funds will be transferred to the General Fund to cover the costs associated with the project.”
NCSS Chief Operations Officer Dr. Michael Barr informed The Covington News of this potential development in an email on Nov. 7.
In Barr’s email, he outlined a general schedule for renovations to begin and be completed.
According to Barr, installation of turf will begin in December 2022 and will be completed in April 2023. Concerning the LED lights, that project will start in January 2023 and Barr said it “will take a few weeks to complete.”
Barr believes the lights will help with the entire facility, which has a capacity for 4,100 people.
“The new LED lights will provide better lighting for the playing surface and surrounding area,” Barr said.
Approval of such renovations to Sharp Stadium come after three years since the last upgrade was made when the digital/video scoreboard was installed in 2019.
Before that, the latest renovations were in 2010 when improvements were made to the drainage and irrigation systems as well as the playing surface. A year prior in 2009, the field house was constructed and the visitor’s side bleachers were installed.
But even more developments could be in the works "in the near future," Fuhrey said.
"We are working on plans to install stadiums at each of our three high schools and will need the support of our community through their approval for the continuation of the one penny ESPLOST," Fuhrey said.
Named after former Newton High principal Homer Sharp, Homer Sharp Stadium is an athletic facility located at 3109 Newton Dr. NE and shared by Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools.
It was originally built in 1956 and hosted its first football game on Sept. 21, 1956 — Newton played Avondale High School. On Nov. 2 of that same year, the first home win came when Newton County defeated Monroe Area 20-13.
Eastside played in its first home game at Sharp Stadium on Sept. 9, 1996 and defeated East Paulding High School 21-17.
The first-ever Newton-Eastside game was Sept. 13, 2022 — Eastside downed Newton 14-7.
On Sept. 8, 2006, Alcovy played its first game ever at Sharp and against Newton when it lost to the Rams 19-14.
Eastside downed Alcovy 49-14 on Oct. 27, 2006 in the two schools’ first game against each other.
Since the stadium’s inception, it has also held recreational events and graduation ceremonies, and has been the home field for Eastside’s girls and boys soccer teams.
Board member Eddie Johnson was the one vote against the approval of turf being installed at Sharp Stadium.