Stadium Project Proposed for Parker Field

Friday, March 18, 2016
Tim Cowan (left), of Athletic Project Consultants, reviews the proposed stadium plan at Monday night's Piggott School Board meeting.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

A major renovation and improvement project for Parker Field, the longtime Piggott High School football facility, was pitched to members of the school board during Monday night's regular monthly gathering. Tim Cowan, a sales representative with Athletic Project Consultants, of Memphis, was on hand at the invitation of Mohawk football Coach Michael Harrell to give a presentation on the company and its services.

"We want to welcome you to the meeting, and as we said before, win or lose, Friday nights are pretty big here in Piggott," board president Jeff Benbrook noted. "It's a big thing for us, and we'd like to have a facility that the community can be proud of."

The board then viewed a Powerpoint presentation on the proposed improvements to the local field, including artist renderings of the final product.

"As I told some of you when we got together last week, we handle all of the aspects of the project," Cowan told the board members. "We handle design consulting, specification and bid creation, feasibility and case studies and fundraising. This would include developing and implementing a campaign and helping with project management through the construction phase."

The company, which has constructed facilities at a number of regional schools, has proposed either a four or six-lane track and turf football field, with a cost of around $1 million dollars.

"Our estimates are the cost of the football field improvements would run $700,000, which includes elevating the current site and installing the turf," he explained. "The basic track would cost about $275,000."

Cowan noted other school districts have had success with fundraising, and securing naming rights to their facilities. He offered dozens of examples of their earlier projects, and shared photos of the fields and tracks at Jonesboro, Nettleton, Hoxie, Greene County Tech, Gosnell and Brookland, among others.

"Due to the size of your facility you wouldn't have room for an eight-lane track, but there is enough room for a six-lane track, although about five feet of the current concession stand would have to be removed," he explained. "The long jump, high jump and pole vault pits would be located at each end."

Cowan did note the additional work involving the concession stand, any drainage issues and other improvements to the facilities was not included in the base cost of the project.

"But, all of our engineering and project management fees are included in the total," he added.

He indicated the company would work with a number of firms on securing the turf, and noted it would be under warranty for eight years.

"The life expectancy is about 10 years, and it does deteriorate and fade with time due to exposure to the sun," he said of the artificial turf. "But, it will drain 21 inches of rain an hour. I talked to Coach Sears at Hoxie the other day and he said the football field was the only dry place on campus."

In promoting the project to the board Cowan noted the facility could become a key part of the community. "This will allow the field to be used year-around, by everyone, without worrying about damaging the turf," he offered. "The marching band, youth sports teams and individuals will be able to use it in all weather, and I this allows other opportunities such as hosting marching events and such."

In relating to the costs, Cowan noted many schools have been able to secure funding.

"We have boxes for advertisers on the turf, and a lot of schools have sold the naming rights to their field to a corporate sponsor," he explained. "We work with you on raising the funds, and retain eight percent of the overall as our portion. There are a lot of opportunities for donations, logo sales and gifts."

He did note some of the regional schools fell short of their fundraising goals, though, and were unable to complete the projects with donated funds. "We finished the football field project at Brookland, but they ran short of funds before they got the track finished," he offered.

Harrell had indicated he has already begun the process of trying to find donors and private individuals to underwrite the project, although during the meeting the use of school funds was discussed. According to superintendent Charlie Powell, construction funds from the recently-passed bond issue extension could be utilized for the project.

Last fall the current bond issue was extended indefinitely by Piggott patrons, with the funds earmarked for a variety of improvement and repair projects. Among those outlined at the time were a safe room, band room, new HVAC units at both campuses and roof improvements.

Following the presentation the board agreed to allow the company to continue with the preliminary phase of the project, and authorized a $10,000 non-refundable payment.

"If you find you're unable to proceed with the plan that would be all the district would be out," Cowan explained. "But, if you agree you'll save $20,000 to $30,000 a year on upkeep and about a million gallons of water a year."

The current Parker Field was opened in the fall of 1978, after the former football field was razed during construction of Piggott High School (now PES).

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