Tommy Richardson Stadium will look a little different next year. A new synthetic turf field is scheduled to be installed following the completion of this football season. The project, which is a collaborative effort between the county and the school system, has been a long time coming according to Quarterback Club President Blake Arnold.
“The football field was last redone in 2004,” explained Arnold. “The field drainage has collapsed, and the irrigation system has needed repair for several years. Going to a synthetic turf field allows the field to be used year-round. The lines stay painted, the surface is never muddy, there is no need for irrigation, and multiple groups in the county will be able to benefit from the usability of the space.”
Director of Schools Mark Florence is excited about the project. “We are really excited about the impact the new turf will provide for our students and community,” said Florence, who notes that this field will be a boon for many different activities. “In addition to being the home of Camden Junior High and Camden Central High football teams, the facility will be used for band competitions, junior pro football, youth soccer, an outdoor physical education class, and many other events throughout the year.”
Both Arnold and Florence are proud of the community for coming together to make this possible. “The partnership between the county and the school system is a great representation of unity across Benton County to invest in our young people,” said Arnold. “This will help keep our youngsters invested in organized sports. If we don’t give our kids something to do, they will find something to do. And usually what they find to do is something that we would rather them not be doing.”
“We appreciate all the work Mr. Arnold has put into this project for our kids and community, and we appreciate the support of the Benton County Commission and School Board as well,” echoed Florence.
The County Commission approved their portion of funds for the project in a March meeting. A resolution designating $200,000 to help Benton County Schools with the field was passed with a memorandum of understanding outlining the usage of the field for soccer and minor league football teams.
As for the future of Benton County athletics, Arnold believes that it has already arrived.
“We’re seeing hundreds of youths on Saturdays in Minor League Football. The excitement is there. What’s even more exciting is that this field can be used by so many different sports. Baseball and Softball will be able to practice on it when their field is too wet. Cross Country can run on it when it’s too muddy. The band can practice on it regardless of what condition their practice field is in. The future really is now.”