JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — Just in time for homecoming, the David Crockett High School Pioneer football team will race onto a field Friday of brand new synthetic turf, under just completed banks of LED lights.
It’s the first major upgrade to the 51-year-old school’s stadium and will allow Pioneer fans to witness the team’s first home game against the 0-5 Cherokee Chiefs after six away contests. Crockett is 2-4.
“Today they should be substantially complete and maybe even have a chance this evening to test a first-round testing of the lights,” Washington County School Superintendent Jerry Boyd told News Channel 11 Tuesday.
Crockett fans can look northeast to Washington County’s other high school for an idea of what to expect. Daniel Boone’s new turf and lights have been operating since late August. Boyd said early feedback on upgrades at the Trailblazers’ home stadium has been positive.
“We can certainly expect the same thing with Crockett and look forward to those lights being activated,” Boyd said.
The upgrades completed so far are part of an overhaul that will eventually include the razing of the schools’ concrete home side seating and replacement with metal grandstands and new press boxes.
The total cost of the lights and turf at both schools was about $2.2 million. Another $3 million total is budgeted for the new seating and press boxes. Boyd, who began his tenure in spring of 2021, said it’s a gratifying time to be directing the schools as both high schools see such major changes on the athletic level.
“Things like football stadiums, even though that’s not our core business, it’s a big part of the community and a big part of the high school experience,” he said. “Being able to be a part of the upgrades that are long overdue for both high schools certainly is exciting.”
Grandstands: Tempering expectations
Boyd said school leaders hope the schools can enjoy full 2023 football seasons with the new grandstands complete. The 2021 cost and construction estimate called for roughly 3,000-seat capacity grandstands with press boxes to be done in time for that to happen, but Boyd said upcoming meetings with the architect will determine whether that timeline remains realistic.
“Everyone sees construction projects just don’t happen as quickly as they did a few years ago,” he said.
“We think we can do it before next football season but if it gets to the point it’s not realistic we’ll have to make sure we clearly communicate that and adjust our plan in a way that we won’t disrupt next season at both high schools.”
A tight timeline will face the system as the project will include razing the current grandstands and building new ones in a span of about eight to nine months. The 3,000-seat vision could get scaled back as well.
“Those costs have increased from the original pricing in July of 2021 in trying to envision what new grandstands would look like, so we have to be prepared for those increased costs both in money as well as time.”
That’s likely the last thing that will be on the Pioneer faithful’s minds Friday night, though.