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Bulldog Stadium track closed; Nederland ISD leaders talk reasoning, upgrades

NEDERLAND — Bulldog Stadium is closed to the public as preparation has begun to replace the natural grass field with synthetic turf.

Signs were posted Friday in Nederland, and locks cutting off public access added at the same time.

The field and track, located on the west end of the Central Middle School campus, is a popular destination for community members running laps, stadiums or playing pick-up sports.

Nederland Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Michael Laird said contract details are being worked out this week while the district moves track, soccer and miscellaneous equipment.

“Phase 1 will be the installation of the turf,” Laird said. “We expect that will be completed prior to the start of football season. H.B. Neild, our construction manager, will be developing the scope of work for the next phase, which includes the restrooms, bleachers and press box.

“With how things are everywhere, we thought we could get the fields done and completed prior to the start of the (2020 football) season. With so many uncertainties, we’re not sure we could get everything else done. That’s why we broke it up into phases.”

Symmetry Astroturf 3D will be installed in Nederland.

Laird said the district’s athletic director and athletic trainer put a lot of research into their recommendation for the new turf, dubbed Symmetry Astroturf 3D, factoring in injury rates, temperature response and maintenance.

Micah Mosley, Nederland school board president, said he recognizes the closure of the track during to the COVID-19 pandemic inconveniences many homebound residents with dwindling options for outside activities.

However, he said everybody in the U.S. is encouraged to do their part by participating in social-distancing efforts.

“The track has increased in occupants,” Mosley said. “It was a good outlet, but it was also having a lot of people congregating in large groups, playing pickup football and soccer games on the field. There would be groups running and walking together.

Mosley said closing the field Friday made sense because of the turf installation and to making sure Nederland residents are doing their part for social distancing.

“It’s tough because there are obviously a bunch of people just wanting to run stands or do things by themselves,” he said. “I know there are probably a large group of people that are frustrated, but we do have a track over by the high school that is rock based and a lot of good streets to run on.”

District officials said they cannot set a reopening date until the complete construction timeline is finalized.