Veterans Memorial renovations complete
Back in 1966 when it hosted its first games, there was no LED lighting or a video board capable of replays. Those were probably some futuristic ideas drawn in comic books.
But as Veterans Memorial Stadium is about to celebrate its 53rd year of hosting a high school football season, it officially has all the bells and whistles that stadiums in their infancy feature.
Earlier this month, major renovations to the stadium became complete, and in 24 hours, the ole gal will begin showing off her new attire when Sam Rayburn hosts Goose Creek Memorial.
The school district contracted with Hellas Sports Construction out of Austin to install its signature brand of artificial surface called Hellas Matrix. From AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys, to smaller venues across the country, they’ve been installed with this Hellas Matrix.
The football players will benefit the most from the renovations. Bill Newcomb Field has now been outfitted with a turf that is taking artificial fields by storm across the nation.
“It’s top of the line. It’s nice as you can tell,” Pasadena ISD Athletic Director Rupert Jaso said.
The field now features a spongier texture, the intent being to reduce the chance for concussions during tackles. Also, the turf has been extended to the wall that begins the seating area.
The old look had cement for about 6 feet leading away from the wall. There’s been moments when a player, after running out of bounds, has lost his footing on the concrete because of his cleats.
“We’ve made it safer by extending the turf all the way to the wall. Now when you have guys running out of bounds after catching a pass, they have a little more area to stop,” Jaso said.
Gone is the typical football field where the playing surface sloped away from the center, replaced with a flat one that the more modern complexes boast of.
Because of this new flat field, there are some subtle changes to Veterans Memorial that the typical fan may not notice. Gone are the steps that led from the field to the seating area. Gone is the ramp at the stadium’s north end.
“Technically, if you were looking at last year’s field, the center is about the same height. We’ve raised the sides to match the center, which was a little more than 2 feet,” Jaso said.
Also gone from the field are drains that were visible in the corners. They too were surrounded by cement. Now those same areas are covered by artificial grass.
“It’s a vertical drain. It goes through the turf,” Jason said. “Basically, underneath this there’s some pebble rock. … There’s a plastic layer that catches the water. That’s the part that’s crowned and it runs downhill. So, there’s a big drain all the way around the field that takes (the water) out the north end,” Jaso explained.
Because the field has been raised and it’s now closer to the seating area, two rows of seating area directly behind the team areas have been removed. It’s a move to reduce the chances for fans, friends or parents from interacting with players while a contest is unfolding.
Capping it off are new goalposts and the new Pasadena ISD logo with the word “Athletics” written across a circle on the new turf.
“We’re hoping when people walk through that tunnel, we want them to say, ‘Whoa, this doesn’t look the same.’ It’s still a football field, but we want the parents to say, ‘That’s really nice,’” Jaso said.