Construction begins at parish football stadiums

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Construction has begun at The Pit in St. Amant. The grass field has been torn up, in preparation for the installation of new artificial field turf.

The next time five of Ascension Parish’s football teams take the field for home games, they’ll be playing on a brand-new playing surface.

Now that high-school graduations are out of the way, construction is set to begin at stadiums across Ascension Parish. The old grass fields are being torn up, and new artificial field turf is being installed.

These new surfaces are being constructed at Floyd Boutte Stadium in Donaldsonville, where both Ascension Catholic and Donaldsonville High play, as well as Dutchtown, East Ascension and St. Amant.

Coaches and players from across the parish are excited about the new fields they’ll be playing on this upcoming fall.

“The beauty of it is that we’re not far from the stadium,” East Ascension head coach Darnell Lee said. “We can load up the buses and head on down the street if we want to practice there and have good footing. It depends on who we’re playing. If we’re playing on turf on Friday, we can practice there. If we’re playing on grass, we can prepare here at the practice field, so we have the best of both worlds.

“This parish has always taken care of its schools. I feel like our fields are the best in the state—practice fields and game fields. I’ll miss the grass, but I’m thankful for the turf.”

The funding for this project was made possible by a vote by parish residents for extending an existing 15.08 property tax for a $140 million bond proposal.

It was originally estimated that installing turf this year at the four sites, and then adding it to Prairieville High for 2023 would cost $7.5 million.

However, the bidding for the project was highly competitive, and as a result, the Ascension Parish School Board was able to strike a deal that will get the project done for $4.17 million.

The Sprinsurf Company of Daniel Island, S.C. ultimately won the bid from the school board on March 16.

Artificial turf has been something the programs in Ascension have longed for over the years. The grass football fields in the parish endure plenty of wear and tear due to overuse throughout the prep sports season.

In addition to varsity football, the fields also host JV football games, boy’s and girl’s soccer games and even some middle-school football contests.

Also, Ascension Catholic and Donaldsonville have to share Floyd Boutte Stadium. Tiger head coach Brian Richardson is thankful that his team will now be playing on turf.

“Our guys are really giddy about it. They can’t wait to play on it,” Richardson said. “They always liked when we had a chance to play on the turf at other schools. Now, they’ll get to play on it for all of their home games. And the best thing about it is how the field will hold up in the bad weather. It was always a challenge dealing with a rough field when there was some heavy rainfall in the area.”

St. Amant head coach David Oliver also mentioned the weather when talking about the benefits of the new turf. He said it won’t just pay dividends for the Gators on game day, but it will also help them tremendously during the week of preparation.

“This is going to be a huge thing for us,” Oliver said. “We’re planning on practicing there at least once a week so that we’ll be able to get a feel for the turf before our game on Friday night. And with the turf, we always know that we’ll have great conditions.

“We have a lot of trouble practicing when there’s a lot of rain—not just because of lightning, but also because the field is so muddy and torn up. Now if that happens, we can bus our guys over to The Pit and practice on the new turf.”