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Workers put the finishing touches on an artificial playing surface inside the McAlester High School Football team’s new practice facility adjacent to Hook Eales Stadium. The new facility will allow the Buffs to practice indoors when weather conditions are unfavorable for outdoor workouts. According to McAlester head football coach Bryan Pratt, the facility will be ready for use by the time football season starts this fall.

What would you do to ensure the success of your family? Your business? Wouldn’t you invest everything you have available to make sure either of those things were the best they could possibly be?

That is precisely what has been done to help ensure the success of the McAlester Buffalo football program. Thanks to a few large, private donations, the Buffs are preparing to open a state-of-the-art practice facility adjacent to Hook Eales Stadium.

“This is by far the best indoor training facility in the state of Oklahoma,” McAlester head coach Bryan Pratt said. “It is something our city should be very proud of.”

The facility’s shell (walls) have been standing for some time now, but the inside of the building has only come to life in recent weeks.

After the shell of the facility was built, it took just over $300,000 to complete the project. The Puterbaugh Foundation donated the $80,000 for the field, $125,000 was donated by the Fugitt Foundation and another $125,000 by the McGowan Foundation. Many other donors offered money and services to ensure the top-notch facility could be completed.

The playing surface is artificial grass, groomed to look and feel like real grass as much as possible. Installing the new turf only took eight days from start to finish. The 42-yard long field includes a regulation depth endzone painted in Buffalo black and gold and reads “McAlester.” The field is 10 yards short of being regulation width however.

The way the turf is laid is quite an interesting process. First the “grass” is laid down and the seams are glued together. Then the hash marks and endzone are cut out. The blades of “grass” are about 2 1/2 inches long before a layer of big grain sand is spread over the turf to help hold it in place. After the sand is spread, sacks of tiny rubber pellets are spread over the surface to give the turf a soft feel. Then the new turf is brushed with special machinery, some of which looks like lawn mowers and some like small street sweepers. Once the entire field is brushed the turf is exposed through the sand and rubber pellets and is ready for play.

According to Bryan Pratt, the facility will be mainly used for weight training and to work on formations during halftime of Friday night games. Most of the Buffs contact practicing will still be done outdoors but the facility will be available when the weather is unfavorable for outdoor practices.

“We are really excited to get in this facility,” Pratt said. “It will be a great asset to our football program here in McAlester for a long time to come.”

Contact Jeremy Higgins at sports@mcalesternews.com

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