IOWA PARK, TX (KAUZ) - Iowa Park has spent the past five years or so completely renovating all of their athletic facilities. In the fall of 2013 they debuted the newly re-done Hawk Stadium to rave reviews. They've redone their gym and concessions, as well as the school itself, the past few years.
This week they debut the new-look Hawk Fields for baseball and softball!
"First of all, a huge shout-out goes to our school board and our superintendent and our athletic director," said head coach Michael Swenson. "This was a vision that we've had for the last 3 or 4 years and they made it a reality this past year."
Previously, the baseball and softball fields were natural grass which, given the conditions in the area, was a big challenge to maintain.
"The wind blows here all the time," Swenson said. "And so every year we'd have to get conditioner, dirt, and every summer it'd blow away."
The fields cost about $1.4 million, but compared to the cost of maintaining grass over the at-least 7-year lifespan of the turf, coach Swenson expects it to be a bargain.
"Up front, this a big, this is a big investment for us," he said. "Definitely in the long run we can't imagine it not saving us money, you know, over the life of this turf."
The first thing you notice is the distinctive pattern of the infield and outfield turf.
"I wanted it to look just like a Major League Baseball field," Swenson explained. "So you can see, we have the warning track going all the way, and then our field looks like it's been mowed, and the dirt looks like it's been watered."
Swenson also showed us how they have subtle spots marked in the outfield, which let them set up two extra infields. The goal is to save wear and tear on the main infield during practice, and it will also help them run camps in the off-season.
It all adds up to one of the premier fields in an area that's really starting to be known for them. In the past few years, Bowie, Henrietta and the Wichita Falls ISD have all debuted new turf baseball and softball fields.
"I think this is, with the work they've done around here pouring the cement, our bleachers, our dugouts, we really feel that we have the best facility in the area," Swenson said. "Every time somebody comes, and I've had people stop in from Lubbock and then a guy from Longview calling me last week. So it's definitely making some headlines out there, and like I said, it's something we're extremely proud of."
The Hawks open the season Thursday with a tournament that they will co-host with Henrietta. The Lady Hawks played their first regular-season home game this past Friday, hosting City View.