New Turf For The Tigers – Dunlap Stadium will have new field, lights for football

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

The fan experience at South Panola Tigers football games this fall will be among the best in the nation, and certainly in the Southeast, following a summer of upgrades at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium in Batesville.

Superintendent Del Phillips spearheaded the drive to modernize the storied venue that has been a major part of the South Panola football legacy and cemented the program as one of the nation’s best in the past three decades.

“It’s something that we wanted to do, we needed to do, in order to stay competitive and give the people of Batesville and the South Panola School District something they can be proud of,” said Phillips. “Our fans and our players will see a major difference when we play this fall.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

At the top of Phillips’ project list was the installation of new turf for the field to replace the original covering laid 10 years ago. Turf fields generally have a 10-year lifespan, and with the added wear of extra use for a variety of high school activities other than football, the original covering had become worn at Dunlap Stadium.

The new turn is Hellas Helix, a twisted monofilament field that is the latest sports turf technology. It is the same covering currently used on 17 of the NFL game fields, and the new standard for both aesthetics and player comfort and safety.

To better see the new turf, the school district will have the newest and brightest lighting available for sporting events. The LED lights will have the capability to flash in sync with music, like the major college stadiums, including the use of different colors in the sequences. In addition to the football field, the new lighting systems will also be installed on the baseball and softball fields and in the high school gymnasium.

The new lighting is a separate project, not included with the football field renovations, and is paid for by the district through a lease agreement with Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association.

Also on the superintendent’s  project list is a state-of-the-art scoreboard using the LED technology and video capabilities that allow for replays, advertisements, and fan interaction content during games. 

Phillips said the new scoreboard will not be ready for installation before the first game of the season, noting that logistics may delay that part of the project until next year.

Most impressive is the fact that new turf, new lights and scoreboard, and other minor upgrades totaling more than $1 million have been completely funded with private donations.

“Everything came from business donations, and no taxpayer money was used for these improvements to our athletic facilities,” Phillips said. “It means a lot that we had the support of the community and business leaders who wanted to provide these funds. That was important to me when we started making these plans, and I think it shows what South Panola athletics means to our city and county.”

Those donors providing the funds for the football upgrades are: Gateway Tire and Service Center, Graves Oil, Heafner Motors, Hallmark Ford, First Security Bank, TVEPA, and TViFiber.

“We really appreciate what these businesses have done for the program and we believe they have made a real investment in the district and community,” Phillips said.