Adam Shinder/Recorder staff

The newly-renovated Patriot Field at Broadalbin-Perth High School is pictured Thursday. The FieldTurf surface was replaced this summer as part of a capital project that will also include new baseball and softball fields, among other improvements to the campus.

By ADAM SHINDER
@RecorderShinder

BROADALBIN — When Matt Ehrenreich arrived at the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District at the start of July to start his tenure as the district’s athletic director, the work had already begun on the parts of B-P’s $39.7 million capital project that include the total revamping of the high school’s outdoor athletic facilities.
The transformation he’s seen in the six weeks since then is simply staggering.
“When I came up here for my first initial interviews, they had just begun some of the digging,” Ehrenreich said Thursday as he looked out on the mass of earth that will soon become B-P’s new varsity baseball and softball fields. “I come back here two months later for my first day, and this is just all dirt. It was really cool.”
Construction is currently being done on Phase 1 of the B-PCSD capital project, and one of the highlights of the refurbishment is just about ready to go. The replacement of the turf at Patriot Field with a brand-new FieldTurf playing surface was in its final stages Thursday and Friday, and was on schedule to be available for use by all of B-P’s teams when practice for fall sports officially opens Monday.
“The turf is the focal point of most of the athletic events we have here in the fall, outside of volleyball and things in the gym,” said Ehrenreich, a Canajoharie native starting his first year as B-P’s AD since taking over for Mike Calvello. “It was one of those things where we said that this needed to be done ASAP. No big project is without hijinks here and there, but it’s really coming along.”
The original turf at Patriot Field was installed as part of a 2004 capital project and, while not in desperate condition, replacing it entirely with the newest generation of FieldTurf during this capital project proved to be a more amenable option than maintaining a field that could be nearing the end of its shelf life in the next several years.
“It was starting to get not necessarily old and worn down, but needing to be fixed,” Ehrenreich said.
“To have the second capital project come up at such an opportune time, it would be crazy not to do it.”
Also underway as part of the capital project are the construction of brand-new fields for baseball and softball with a state-of-the-art drainage system installed underneath the topsoil, a new cross country course and improved access roads and parking for athletic events. There are also plans to have the track at Patriot Field replaced for the spring 2018 season.
Future improvements include a new scoreboard, announcer’s booth, rest rooms, locker rooms and storage facilities at Patriot Field, a storage and restroom facility to go along with the new baseball/softball complex, a 40-yard football practice field, new shot put and discus areas and rehabiliation of the baseball and softball fields at the district’s Perth campus.
“Everybody here is really bent up on making sure it’s done right,” Ehrenreich said. “Some schools wait decades to get a project like this. So, if you’re gonna do it, you want to do it right. Thankfully our superintendent (Stephen Tomlinson), he’s a pretty athletic-minded person, he used to be a P.E. teacher and a coach, he understands a lot of the ins and outs. Thankfully, we’ve got some people who are not willing to let anything go by and make sure it’s done correctly.”
Patriot Field’s transformation has been done seemingly in the blink of an eye. Unlike the ground-up turf project last year at Fonda-Fultonville, B-P’s turf replacement was a much simpler job. The field was closed July 27 for renovation, and as of Thursday was just a few minor details away from being ready to go.
“Going out there and seeing the process, it’s amazing to see, but it’s also really elementary how they do it,” Ehrenreich said. “I go out there and there’s six guys out there rolling out turf, they’re pulling and tugging to stretch it and then in the background there’s another guy with what looks like giant hair clippers, buzzing down the turf to sew in the hash marks on the football field.”
The turf is lined for football, soccer, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse. Though B-P does not currently offer lacrosse, Ehrenreich said when it came down to deciding how to have the field lined, it made sense to keep options open for the future — as well as give the field a chance to host sectional and regional events.
“This is the kind of field that everybody’s gonna want to be on,” he said. “Thankfully, we know it’s been done right and it’s gained enough interest in the community.”
The new baseball and softball fields aren’t anywhere near as far along as the turf. Right now, it’s just a mass of earth being moved around into the proper configuration, with stakes marking the bases and pitcher’s mound on what will eventually be the infield.
But, at a school where wet weather and poor drainage severely limit time outdoors during the spring, the new facilities are much appreciated.
“The new baseball field is going to be a great first step to the turnaround of our program,” B-P baseball coach RJ Pingitore said. “I am very grateful for the administration and community for making this happen. With all of the renovations going on, this is a great time to be a Patriot and we are all looking forward to seeing the finished product.”
So far, everything’s gone to plan. For a new, youthful athletic director like Ehrenreich, that’s made his job much easier.
“With a project this big, you always have to have some sort of backup plans because you don’t know what will happen, but thankfully it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to go about those and we’ll be all set,” he said.
“We’ll be a little crunched for a little bit of time, but in talking to the coaches, they’re so excited to have that new turf out their that they’re willing to work around it,” he added. “We have a great coaching staff around here, a veteran staff, and they’re really willing to help out.”