The artificial turf at Barron Stadium represents a significant investment by the voters of Rome and Floyd County, and the Rome school system plans to protect that investment.
Signs are up on the turf reminding the community that, while the track around the stadium is open for community use, the field itself is off limits.
Rome City Schools took over management of the stadium July 1 as part of the new recreation deal between Rome, Floyd County and the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority.
While some have complained that the school system should not ban the public from using the field, that policy is not new.
Lou Byars, chief operations officer for Rome City Schools, said as far as he could remember use of the field has always been prohibited, but that policy had not been enforced in recent years.
Rome High Athletic Director Kevin Strickland said he specifically recalls a sign near the Second Avenue entrance to the stadium and track saying that people were not supposed to be on the artificial turf.
“More and more people have started to use it and it’s very expensive to replace,” Byars said. “The turf only lasts so long and with Rome football and Shorter football using it, we want to make the investment last for as long as we can.”
The turf, funded as part of a $3.3 million SPLOST project for renovations to Barron Stadium, was first put into service in 2010.
Rome Purchasing Director Bill Gilliland said the site preparation, grading, drainage and turf were bid as a package and the low bid for the work was $538,138.
Byars said the school system is in the process of renegotiating an agreement with Shorter University for its use of the stadium. The previous agreement between the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority and both Rome High and Shorter expired July 1, according to Byars.
“We don’t expect any major changes with them using the field at all,” Byars said. “We had been talking with them even before July 1, but we really had to wait until they got a new athletic director,” Byars said.
He said Strickland and new Shorter A.D. Kim Graham, who took over at Shorter on June 1, have already met.
Strickland resigned as girls basketball coach at Rome High this spring to be able to devote more time to his athletic director duties with the schools taking over Barron Stadium and the Legion Field baseball complex behind the Coosa River levee.