GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Tennessee high school football powerhouse is getting a new look for the 2022 season, and it’s something school officials say will make a difference in player safety.
The Greeneville High School Greene Devils will take the field at Burley Stadium for their August home opener on a completely new artificial turf field.
On Thursday, the Greeneville Board of Education voted 4-0 to approve the purchase of the new turf at a cost of $549,270.91.
School officials described a field that felt like concrete when players made contact with it.
“That ground has caused some injuries that we’ve not seen in a while,” said Greeneville football head coach Eddie Spradlen. “It’s just something that over the years, the wear and tear, it’s just got to the point where it needs to be replaced.”
The new field will have an updated design based on renderings shown at the meeting. Board Treasurer Josh Quillen said it’s an investment that makes player safety a top priority.
“It’s been really easy for them to say, “Oh yeah, we need this beautiful, nice, new facility.’ It’s not been that. It’s been a safety perspective, what’s best for the kids,” Quillen said.
The turf is shared by the Greeneville football and soccer teams, but also plays host to youth leagues. Greeneville soccer coach Jerry Graham said head injuries can happen with the current turf.
“We don’t wear helmets, and that’s definitely a concern for ours when we have heads hitting that turf,” Graham said.
Spradlen said the new turf will provide much more cushion than the previous one. It includes more layers than what the school has now.
Last week, school officials went to the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, hoping to split the costs of the new turf. They were denied due to the request being outside of the BMA’s budgeting period.
School Board Chair Cindy Luttrell said she wants to return to the BMA during the next budget consideration.
“I do hope that in the near future if they’re planning their budget for the coming year that they would consider a contribution,” Luttrell said.
The soccer team will retire the current turf at the end of their season this spring.
School officials said they plan to rip up the old turf right after graduation. They expect the new turf to be ready by the 2022 Greene Devils season opener in August.