School board approves funding for FIFA-like soccer field

File/Daily Citizen-News

Dalton Middle School students learned about concepts like force, mass and acceleration in October 2020 via demonstrations by guests from Shaw Industries on the school's athletic field. That field is going to be renovated, with work scheduled to begin in mid-May, and "it'll be a nice place to have events," said Rusty Lount, director of operations for Dalton Public Schools. 

By this time next year, Dalton should have a soccer field that meets FIFA requirements, a rarity outside of a major metropolitan city, after the Dalton Board of Education approved a $4 million capital fund budget amendment.

FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) is the "soccer world's governing body," according to U.S. Soccer.

The field will be on the campus of the current Dalton Middle School.

"It'll probably be one of the largest fields between Atlanta and Knoxville," Tennessee, said Rusty Lount, director of operations for Dalton Public Schools. It'll be "an excellent field to play on, and colleges are already (calling) to use it for soccer."

The field will also be optimal for football and lacrosse, Lount said, noting "this opens up another playable field, and it'll be a nice place to have events."

"We have events scheduled through May 15," but ideally construction should begin shortly after that, and "we have a good base with the current field," which will shorten the project's total time, he said. The field should be ready for play by February 2022, at the latest.

The campus of the current Dalton Middle School is being remodeled to become two different schools beginning with the 2021-22 academic year: Dalton Junior High School, for grades eight and nine, and The Dalton Academy, a magnet school for grades 10-12. Dalton High School will also become a 10-12 school next school year, and Hammond Creek Middle School, for students in grades six and seven, will open near the current middle school campus.

School board members approved Austell's Swofford Construction, Inc., for the field project with a $4.312 million contract. They also approved no more than $909,000 for Kennesaw's Advanced Sports Group for the synthetic turf on the field, turf that will come from Shaw Industries and be installed by Advanced Sports Group.

With synthetic turf, "the field will be much cooler than in the past," Lount said. "That's something our athletes are very interested in, and we're really excited about."

The city of Dalton may cover some or all costs of the turf, as this field would be an amenity for the entire city, especially the city's recreation department, said Theresa Perry, the school system's chief financial officer. "We're working through that and could bring (an agreement) to you (the school board members) in May."

Dalton Public Schools had previously earmarked $2 million for the field project, Perry said. The total project is expected to cost no more than $6 million.

The field will have seating for 2,000, with an ability to expand later, and be "100% ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible," Lount said. It will also include lighting, concession areas, dressing rooms for home and visiting teams, a press box and restrooms.

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