SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - With shovels instead of shoulders pads, and under a different kind of helmet, Chatham County started working on its ground game for the 2018 football season.
"I think it's a great thing for the community,'' Chatham County Parks and Recreation Director, Steve Proper, said of a new Memorial Stadium. "For one thing, it's a stadium we can be proud of.''
The county broke ground Thursday morning on the new Memorial, tossing ceremonial piles of dirt toward a future of improved athletic facilities for the area's high school athletes.
"This is one of the most used stadiums in the county,'' said Chatham County Commission Chair, Al Scott. "And the fact that we're going to make it multi-purpose, that we can have other events and not just high school football is a big plus.''
The original Memorial Stadium had history on its side, but little else. The new facility, which will have artificial turf, new locker rooms, and a training room, will be a place kids want to play, not just where they have to play.
"It's a different type of turf that has a coolant where it's going to stay about 10 or 15 degrees cooler than it would be,'' said Proctor. "Because one of the drawbacks about artificial turf is it can get hot if it has direct sun on it, especially Savannah's sun.''
That is just one advancement of what will be the hottest new facility in the area when it opens in time for the 2018 high school season.
"When counties or other municipalities or other high schools come to play us,'' said Proctor, "we can really be proud of this because it looks very nice.''
The new Memorial Stadium will also be available for other high school sports, including soccer and lacrosse, and will be used year-round for community events such as concerts and festivals.
The county's goal is to have the playing field open for use by the end of July, in time for the 2018 football season. The fieldhouse and some of the other amenities will likely not be complete until March of 2019.