Dougherty County Athletic Director Johnny Seabrooks poses in front of Hugh Mills Stadium. (Herald file photo)
ALBANY — The Hugh Mills Stadium turf will soon be getting a makeover.
The natural grass football surface will be a thing of the past when artificial turf is installed next summer. Dougherty County Athletic Director Johnny Seabrooks confirmed the playing field will be synthetic during his retirement ceremony on Wednesday.
“I got a call (on Tuesday) that we will have it for the 2015 football season,” Seabrooks said. “That was confirmed. All I could say when I got that call was thank you Jesus because we’ve been going down that road for a while.
“This past track season, with all the wear on the field, there was nothing you could do about it. But it represents us in Dougherty County.”
The school system hopes to have bids finalized by November with construction to begin after the track & field season ends next May. Not only will Dougherty County save money from the upkeep and maintenance of the natural grass surface, but Seabrooks said the cosmetic appearance will be an added benefit.
“More than cost saving is the wear and tear and the appearance,” he said. “Hugh Mills is a historic place. Having the artificial turf will increase some activities there. Right now, we can’t hold a lot of activities with other things because from May to August, we’re trying to grow grass to make sure we have a field that will last for 23 or 24 football games.
“It will open the stadium up for some other activities, and it will give Hugh Mills that appearance. When people walk into Hugh Mills Stadium, they are surprised at how historic it is. To have that turf in there and to try and get a new track in there in a few years, it will be first class all the way. It will upgrade our facility a lot.”
Hugh Mills will become the second local stadium to get rid of the grass turf and install a synthetic surface. Lee County voters last month approved an upgrade to their athletic facilities with one item being the installation of artificial turf on its football field.
Albany High football coach Felton Williams said the installation of synthetic turf was good news.
“I love that idea,” Williams said. “We’ve got four local high school and the middle schools that play there, and that field gets so much wear and tear. I know there have been times where the mole crickets have eaten up the grass before the season starts and then you add the weather. The natural grass would be torn up.
“But the turf will be a great benefit for the system as a whole.”