Donor funds new turf for stadium

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The field at T.J. Mills Stadium is going to have a different look in a few months.

The Mark A. Chapman Foundation donated a $1 million check to Sealy ISD last week for the installation of new turf field to be named after Chapman in T.J. Mills Stadium.

The foundation has made several donations to Sealy ISD in the past and continues to award scholarships to Sealy and other high schools. The foundation also has donated generously to Kansas State, the late Mark Chapman’s alma mater, to athletic and academic facilities.

Chapman’s widow Cheryl Mellenthin runs the foundation and attended the Sealy ISD school board meeting to present the check to Superintendent Sheryl Moore, board president Ryan Reichardt and athletic director Shane Mobley.

“We will likely never see a gift of this magnitude again in our lifetimes,” Reichardt said when introducing Mellenthin. “To help out our kids like this and really the community as a whole is just incredible.”

Sealy ISD will begin installing the field after the Tigers’ football season is finished in hopes to have it completed by February. Moore said the school board has been talking with several different turf companies over the past few months and have narrowed it down to four final candidates.

Part of the renovation will be expanding the high-jump area behind one of the end zones to create additional high-jump pits.

Moore said the board will select a contractor Nov. 1. She said she first heard about the donation when Reichardt called her to tell the news.

“My initial reaction was just sincere appreciation,” Moore said. “Time and time again people in this community just do amazing things for the kids and the schools and it’s just amazing to me.”

Moore said the turf also opens up numerous possibilities to host other events for the school. It also opens up the possibility of other schools around the area to come to Sealy for playoff games in the future which Moore said could have significant impacts around the town and not just the high school.

“We’re strategically located right here off I-10 so it could really have an economic boom on our community,” Moore said. “They would stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and help everyone out.”

Having turf also saves Sealy ISD money since they don’t have to pay workers overtime to care for and repaint the field, along with other tedious tasks normally associated with having a grass field.

Moore said this will allow the school to funnel that money back into the school system rather than spending it on the field. Another part of the donation the school board was happy about was the sheer size of it.

“Not a single dime of the education fund or tax dollars will be going toward this field, it’s all coming out of the donation,” Moore said.

Mobley said the field will help the team in terms of being healthier on their legs but also will cause fewer game delays.

“There is so much that we’re going to be able to do that you just can’t do on grass because you don’t have to worry about rain anymore and it’s such a blessing,” Mobley said.

Turf fields have pipes built under them that allow rainwater to drain more quickly making prolonged flooding virtually impossible.

So when the spring sports begin playing again, not only will some be playing at T.J. Mills Stadium but they will also be playing on Mark A. Chapman Field.

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