Funded by Rec Sports, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Physical Plant began the $1.3 million renovation of Pride Field at the end of fall 2016.
This project was mapped out into stages for years, according to Chris Crenshaw, the Physical Plant’s Associative Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management.
“We’ve been kind of working through this for several years now,” Crenshaw said. “[We are] just doing what we can afford to do, when we can.”
The first few stages of the project included positioning new lighting fixtures across the field and building a new band tower for the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band.
The Physical Plant had planned to install artificial turf after the lighting fixtures, but had to consider making accommodations to how the turf laid over the foundation. In result, the band tower was the second project completed in the Fall.
Director of The Pride Colin McKenzie said the renovations are already impacting students positively.
“The rehearsal tower has already been a huge asset to the instruction of students in the marching band, allowing instructors a full picture of all that is happening on the field so that we can work to continually improve upon what our students are doing every day,” McKenzie said.
The Physical Plant is currently working on the installation of synthetic turf and fencing, the third stage of the project.
After completing recreational sports evaluations and observing national standards, Rec Sports understood that the university lacked the proper number of playing fields for the number of teams it has.
The program includes more than 40 Intramural Sports activities. With students’ desire for more fields and the program’s ability to fund the project, the Physical Plant will be able to tackle this project over time.
The construction includes two 80- yard fields and brick columns with black wrought-iron fencing around it. The fencing will be similar to what is currently on West 4th Street and Hardy Street.
The extra playing fields will allow intramural sports to start at more reasonable times of the night.
Engineers leveled the field and created a new drainage system for a low-maintenance field during rainy weather, which will allow students to use it despite any weather conditions.
“The turf will allow the marching band to rehearse efficiently and safely,” McKenzie said. “In the past, rainy weather has forced the marching band to cancel rehearsal because the field very easily turned into a mud pit after the slightest bit of rain.
“Now that the field will be the size of three fields into one, with lines and marks running down them, students will be able to use the field for several entities.”
The sidewalk and parking spaces along the north side of Pride Field – from Golden Eagle Avenue to the sidewalk leading to the Payne Center – will remain closed for the duration of the project. The Physical Plant requests that students obey all directional signage and be aware of construction equipment in the area.
This project is expected be completed before May 2017 graduation.