A saintly gift: NFL team donates turf to city and county

Published 10:29 am Friday, February 17, 2023

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A donation by the New Orleans Saints has made the team some new fans in Jessamine County.

Years ago, the NFL began planning a youth football facility with the Jessamine County Fiscal Court, but the project never came to fruition due to a lack of funding.

Enter the Saints.

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After their season ends, the Saints have a new turf installed each year. The hardly-used turf is typically donated to schools in and around Louisiana, but their turf was donated to a Kentucky county for the first time this year.

Jessamine County Judge-Executive David West said the donation “has made us root for the Saints even more.”

The professional football turf is so large compared to youth fields that the facility will have several fields made of professional turf: a soccer field, a football field, and a couple of softball and baseball fields.

This project has been a long time coming, as the Jessamine County Fiscal Court has already put about $1 million into buying the land and begun preparing the base bedding for the youth football field.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has also made funding commitments.

“I mean, 20 years ago, there was a group that had an idea to put a turf field. At that time, the Kentucky NFL players’ hall of fame was going to be located here,” West said

That funding never came through, so now, Judge West said he feels wonderful, “It’s going to be a huge asset for our community,” he continued, “It’s an extremely exciting project for us, a great step forward.”

With the Saints’ donation, the city of Nicholasville will finish what the County started at John Preece Park in Nicholasville.

Nicholasville City Commissioner Patty Teater said this facility is part of a larger two-phase project.

The first phase will include the sports fields, locker rooms, concessions and bathrooms.

Teater said the city had allocated $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for this first phase. While the turf will be installed within 90 days, construction of the entire facility will likely be completed by next spring.

The second phase will be a community center adjacent to the sports facility. $4 million in ARPA funds were allocated for this project. The city will likely need part of this allocation to complete the youth facility.

Teater said that because the city is still in the fundraising phase of this $8-12 million dollar project, residents should expect to see this “further down the road.”

She also said that city officials are thrilled.

“To be able to have access to this turf that is coming from the New Orleans Saints is just kind of the icing on the cake,” Teater said. “I mean, for the kids to have the opportunity to play on the same

turf that professional football players have played on, it’s pretty exciting.”

City officials are open to how the facility will be used for now, and Teater said she wants schools to use it but that it would also benefit the city to allow travel teams to play in the facility.

“I hope for the schools to be able to use it some for practice facilities,” Teater added, “As well as trying to have some tourism and economic development growth out of it from other teams coming from out of the county to play there.”