JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Sargent’s Stadium at the Point received a special – and overdue – delivery on Wednesday afternoon.
A tractor trailer filled with 15-foot long rolls of artificial turf arrived at the stadium in downtown Johnstown. The components of the new playing surface were unloaded and placed inside the Point, where installation is expected to begin as early as Thursday.
No football has been played at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point this fall. So this preparation work for installation of the new artificial turf will have to serve as an action video at the Point…for now. pic.twitter.com/lLrxYMg0ms— Michael Mastovich (@masty81) October 6, 2021
“The city is excited about receiving this turf,” said Jared Campagna, director of Johnstown’s Public Works Department. “We’ve been waiting a little while and went through some issues with COVID outbreaks at their manufacturing plant and another issue with receiving the materials.
“The turf is onsite, and we’re looking to start installation possibly as early as (Thursday) morning,” Campagna said.
“They are anticipating a one-week to one-week-and-a-few-days installation.”
The $421,733 project by FieldTurf came in at about 40% lower than the originally budgeted $700,000 range.
The original artificial playing surface was installed in 2007 and had outlasted the typical 10-year lifespan for such surfaces.
The new turf will come with a 10-year warranty, city officials announced in May.
The project began not long after the conclusion of the 76th AAABA Tournament in August, but a COVID-19 situation at the company that manufactures the artificial turf halted work in early September.
Originally, the new turf was expected to be installed in time for Bishop McCort Catholic to play its Sept. 17 home game against Chestnut Ridge at the Point.
But since then, the Crushers have played home dates at Shade High School and Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium. An Oct. 15 home game against Central High School is scheduled to be played at Shade.
Campagna said installation of the new turf might take a week to 10 days, weather permitting. A worker helping to position the rolls of turf on the gravel-covered surface at the Point on Wednesday agreed with that assessment.
Bishop McCort Catholic Athletic Director Ralph DeMarco said the Crimson Crushers now are hopeful the team might be able to play its final home date of the season against Westmont Hilltop at Sargent’s Stadium on Oct. 29.
“We’ve been holding out hope all season long,” DeMarco said. “I think it would be just huge for our entire football team to be able to play the last home game at the Point. But for our seniors, I don’t know what adjective I could put on that. It would be incredible for them to play their last home game at the Point. I’m sure that’s something they always hoped to do.”
Another part of the stadium renovations is scheduled to begin next month, Campagna said. LED lights will replace the current lighting in a stadium with a long history of light malfunctions, especially during the annual AAABA Tournament.
“They’re full LED lights, which will reduce our energy costs as well as increase the lighting on the field surface,” Campagna said. “The original plan was to have the lights installed as soon as the turf was installed. But we’re trying to get some McCort games in, so we pushed the lights back. We have a construction date (for the lights) of Nov. 1.”
Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association President George Arcurio III welcomed the news of the turf’s arrival and the plans to upgrade the lighting. The Oldtimers sponsor the AAABA Tournament, which annually brings thousands of people and significant revenue to the city.
“I’m really glad to see that the administration, the members of council and the mayor have followed through with their commitment to the organizations that use the Point and make it a better place,” Arcurio said. “With the new improvements, the AAABA Tournament will be a bigger success next year than it has been this year, which was one of our best.”
The improvements will add to the allure of the historic stadium, according to Georgianne Matava, owner of the Flood City Thunder semi-professional football team that plays home games at Sargent’s Stadium.
“In the league that we’re in, all of the teams that play us want to play in the stadium because of the turf and how nice the stadium is,” said Matava, whose team plays in the Great Eastern Football Association. “I’m pleased that the new turf will be a part of our season next spring.”
Johnstown Mill Rats manager Parker Lynn expects the upgrades to boost the second-year franchise’s ability to recruit players and attract fans to the college-aged, wooden-bat Prospect League.
“It was one of the new developments that we were excited to hear would be happening at the Point,” Lynn said. “The Point is a great stadium with a great history. Now it will have new turf and we hope to add some new history on the new playing surface.
“Everybody who uses the stadium – Pitt-Johnstown, the JCBL, the high schools and us – will benefit from this. Everyone is looking forward to seeing the final product.”