The playing surface at Bronco Stadium received a facelift this summer and now sports a new and modern synthetic surface, just in time for the 2015-16 athletic seasons at Zachary High.

Athletic Director Jesse Cassard said there is still work to do before the stadium is completed. The track also is receiving a new surface and will be finished before the Broncos’ football Jamboree on Aug. 28.

The new multipurpose field features a synthetic turf that is scientifically designed with a surface that includes crushed rubber and sand infill, which helps prevent leg injuries and concussions.

It’s a lot different from the old turf that often was responsible for serious injuries.

“It’s a lot better now; the technology is unbelievable,” Cassard said. “It’s like walking on the best grass there is.”

Artificial surfaces are built now with safety for athletes at the forefront, including the design, installation and maintenance. Surfaces are judged based on “G-max” testing, or shock absorbency testing using a specialized piece of equipment.

Cassard said the Bronco field is tested much like professional athletic fields are.

Geo-Surfaces Inc. was hired to complete the resurfacing, and Cassard said the Baton Rouge company has been great to work with.

The previous artificial turf was installed before the 2008 season, and Cassard said it lasted about as long as is normal. “Up to eight to 10 years is about what you can expect, depending on usage,” he said.

Cassard said the artificial turf installation has an initial cost of $400,000 to $500,000, with the most expensive investment being the asphalt subsurface layer for the new track, which is more than $600,000.

But the expense will be recouped in a number of ways, mainly with decreased maintenance costs.

“We will spend a lot less in maintenance costs, and it takes less time maintaining,” Cassard said. “We don’t have to pay somebody to keep it cut, fertilized and all the costs associated with a grass field. We have to clean it with a hydraulic sweeper, and once every other year, we have to sanitize it.”

The turf is built to withstand the crazy swings in Louisiana weather and can tolerate torrential rain and prolonged hot spells.

The trend is for high schools to move toward synthetic surfaces because of the ease of maintenance and overall cost savings. Just in the Baton Rouge region, schools like Catholic High, Live Oak, Walker, Denham Springs, Parkview and University High all have installed artificial turf fields. In all, there are 40 to 50 schools in Louisiana that now have them, Cassard said.

“You can’t beat it,” he said.

The Bronco Stadium field gets a lot of use, Cassard said. That includes varsity football practices and games but also junior varsity, freshmen football, boys and girls soccer, band practice, physical education classes and youth league games.

“There are some limitations: There’s no eating or drinking things, like soft drinks, on the field,” Cassard said. “That will be strictly enforced. But you cannot beat the turf we’re going to have on that field. I credit our (school) board with having the foresight to understand the value of putting in this type of field.”

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