Tucker Field. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
CUMBERLAND â€” A summer-long project to replace the natural grass football field at Tucker Field with state-of-the-art synthetic turf is nearly complete, but whether or not it will be ready in time for the first home game of the season on Oct. 4 is still up in the air.
School officials have been told by the general contractor that the field will be ready in time for the Clippersâ€™ first home game against St. Raphael on Friday, Oct. 4, but whether or not the field can actually be used that day depends on the weather over the next week and if crews are able to finish resurfacing the track that surrounds the field.
â€śThe field is supposed to be done by Sunday and weâ€™re all hoping it will be ready for Oct. 4, but thatâ€™s contingent on the weather and other work that needs to be done,â€ť Athletic Director Frank Geiselman said Wednesday.
At the very latest, the field would be ready for play by Friday, Oct. 18, he said.
Because the field project is ongoing, the Clippers had to play what was supposed to be their first home game on Sept. 15 against Cranston West at Bryant College. Now, Cumberlandâ€™s first home game of the season will either be Friday, Oct. 4 â€“ if the field complex is ready â€“ or Friday, Oct. 18.
â€śIt looks beautiful,â€ť said Cumberland head coach Chris Surka. â€śWeâ€™ve been told that the new field is almost finished, and weâ€™re keeping our fingers crossed it will be ready in time for our first home game against St. Raphael.â€ť
Cumberland High School Principal Alan J. Tenreiro said regardless of when the home game is actually played, plans are being made for the schoolâ€™s pep rally to be held at the field on Oct. 25, when the Clippers play Pilgrim High School.
â€śThe kids will be doing something really special,â€ť he said.
When fans arrive at Tucker Field on either Oct. 4 or Oct. 18, things will look a lot different.
R.A.D. Sports, the general contractor, has spent the past six months overseeing the Tucker Field Athletic Complex renovation project, which also includes upgrading the football field and softball field lighting systems; redesigning and resurfacing the main parking lot; and resurfacing the infield of the baseball field and the running track around the football field.
Texas-based subcontractor Symmetry Turf installed the synthetic, maintenance-free artificial turf.
The project was designed by Birchwood Design Group, a Providence-based landscape architecture planning and design firm that designed new fields for the Woonsocket middle schools and Franklin High School.
The project is being funded with a $300,000 state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) matching grant. The town match of $206,338 is budgeted in the general fund, and the balance is coming from the recreation fund.
The town has been making steady improvements to the 126.5-acre Tucker Field Athletic Complex over the past few years. The complex is located on Mendon Road, across the street from Cumberland High School.
Two years ago, the council authorized the mayor to enter into a contract with Cumberland-based J.H. Lynch & Sons for construction services as part of the second phase of the renovation project at Tucker Field Athletic Complex.
The projectâ€™s second phase was to create a larger multipurpose athletic field at the 2675 Mendon Road complex; redesign and renovation of four existing tennis courts and the addition of a fifth; reconstruction of an existing track and field weight throwing area; two new basketball courts; and ADA-compliant parking and roadway
Meanwhile, the Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department is giving people an opportunity to purchase an engraved brick for a planned Walk of Memories to be installed at the complex in the spring. The bricks are available for anyone who wants to commemorate a special memory in Cumberland, a celebration at Tucker Field, or a great achievement at Cumberland High School.
The brick walkway will be similar to the walkway of dedicated bricks inside Bostonâ€™s Fenway Park, and town officials are hoping the Tucker Field Walk of Memories will be something the community will enjoy for generations to come.
Bricks must be ordered by Jan. 31 to be included in the initial phase of the Walk of Memories, which will begin in the spring.
The bricks are $100, $175 and $250, depending on size.
An engraved brick order form can be found at the townâ€™s website at www.cumberlandri.org.
All proceeds from the sale of bricks will benefit the Tucker Field renovation project.
(Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter at jofitz7)