New turf fields planned for Bridgton Academy

TRANSFORMATIONAL — The athletic fields project presented to the Bridgton Planning Board Tuesday includes new first-ever synthetic turf fields for baseball, football and lacrosse, allowing students to play and practice year-round. The fields project is part of a $6 million capital campaign to create a “transformational athletic complex,” according to BA Headmaster Grady Vigneau Jr.

TRANSFORMATIONAL — The athletic fields project presented to the Bridgton Planning Board Tuesday includes new first-ever synthetic turf fields for baseball, football and lacrosse, allowing students to play and practice year-round. The fields project is part of a $6 million capital campaign to create a “transformational athletic complex,” according to BA Headmaster Grady Vigneau Jr.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Major changes are in store for two of the athletic fields at Bridgton Academy. The all-male one-year prep school has plans to reconstruct its football and baseball fields using synthetic turf, and rotate the configuration of the baseball diamond to better capture sunlight paths.

The project will transform the football field into a 90,000 square-foot multi-purpose field with artificial turf for lacrosse and football, and a new artificial turf baseball infield. The school hopes to have the facilities built and ready for use for the Class of 2016.

A $6 million “Rise, Sons of Bridgton” capital campaign, the largest in the Academy’s history, was begun last year to provide financing for the project. The $6 million capital campaign aims to fully revitalize and modernize all of the Academy’s athletic facilities.

Eventually, the school also plans to construct a new, 16,000-square-foot, $2.5 million Strength and Fitness Center adjacent to the fields and make $1 million in renovations to the existing Memorial Gym, but those projects were not part of the plans heard Tuesday by the Bridgton Planning Board.

The board gave tentative approval for the fields project, but before construction can go forward the school also needs permit approval under the state’s Site Location of Development law. The plans were presented by Todd Gammon of Blais Civil Engineers, who said the project would disturb just under three acres of the 47-acre campus in North Bridgton.

A phosphorus study was needed because the Academy’s campus is in the watershed of Long Lake. The study showed that levels of phosphorus exiting the site were deemed below allowable limits.

‘A step above’

The athletic program, which includes six major varsity sports, plays an important role in the one-year postgraduate school. Headmaster Grady Vigneau Jr. said on the school’s website that along with academics and personal growth, the school aims to allow students to develop their physical talents and skills to compete in college athletics.

“Our young men are truly a step above,” Vigneau said. “They and their families care about their future success.” Among its current enrollment of 185 students, between 85 and 90% of the students participate in a varsity sport. Over the years, many graduates of BA have gone on to excel in college sports, including some of the country’s larger, Division 1 universities.

An overview of the $6 million capital campaign on the Academy’s website stated that now that the school has rebuilt its academic facilities, it’s time to construct “an equally transformational athletic complex.” By using synthetic turf, the fields can be used in all types of weather, “greatly enhancing our students' safety, comfort, and learning opportunities,” Vigneau said.

The project will also provide space for a dedicated 80,000 square-foot, $300,000 soccer complex by re-grading the land below the current soccer field. The $500,000 dedicated baseball complex will have an all-weather artificial turf infield and will be completed enclosed with a home-run fence and outfield warning track. It will also have home and visiting team dugouts.

Head Football Coach Chad Walker said on the website that the $1.1 million artificial turf field serving football and lacrosse “will enable our vision of having a year-round program for football. The turf will allow us to carry on with out-of-season football-specific workouts that will continue to develop student-athletes for their careers after BA. It will also have a beautiful appeal for incoming student-athletes and their families.”

And Hockey Coach Mike Warde said that the building of top-notch athletic facilities “will keep Bridgton Academy on the global map in the world of prep school athletics.”

 

 

 

 

 

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