The first major move that the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions athletics department will make in utilizing the $2.5 million gift given to them by Simmons Bank is installing an artificial turf field.
The field will be named "Simmons Bank Field," and with the bulldozers arriving Monday, it won’t be long before the old grass field will be a memory.
A new scoreboard and other improvements are also planned for the facility using the Simmons donation.
Since Golden Lion Stadium opened 18 years ago it has always featured a grass field, but with the hiring of new Head Football Coach Cedric Thomas, a brand new artificial turf field will come with him.
Thomas said from the beginning that he felt they should have artificial turf for multiple reasons. One of the main reasons is it’s what the kids like to play on, and in today’s age most big-time stadiums have artificial turf fields.
Geo Surfaces will be the company to lay the new field. The company has installed turf fields in a number of sports, and in 13 different states. Here in Arkansas, they’ve laid turf fields at 18 different schools, including five artificial turf fields at Arkansas State University, six artificial turf fields at the University of Central Arkansas, and four artificial turf fields at Henderson State University.
UAPB Sports Information Director Habtom Keleta was there to see the bulldozers arrive and to meet with officials from Geo Surfaces, a company out of Louisiana.
“They had to remove the bleachers first, and then went down the goal post,” Keleta said. “Everything is ready and it’s exciting.”
This will be one of many facility upgrades throughout the UAPB athletics program. Information on the cost of the new artificial turf field hasn’t been released.
Renovations are also planned at the Torii Hunter baseball complex at UAPB using the Simmons money.