The City of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Schools held a ceremonial groundbreaking at Blankenship Field on Friday, December 7, to celebrate the start of renovations. Excavation of the field began earlier in the week. Installation of the artificial turf is expected to be complete by April 30, 2019, in time for Oak Ridge High School’s graduation.
“I am excited that Oak Ridgers are writing the next chapter in the storied history of our Blankenship Field,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said. “The field turf project has been a long time coming, and I want to thank everyone who has been involved for their support, perseverance, and patience. We can all look forward to Oak Ridge High School graduation in May, which will be the inaugural event on our new field.” Other phases of the project will follow the graduation ceremony.
In late 2017, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) approved a $496,000 Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant for the purpose of renovating Blankenship Field. The Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation is providing an equal match to the grant, bringing the total funds to roughly $1 million. Additional planned upgrades include concrete walkways, synthetic track, fencing, Cedar Hill Greenway signage, and new restrooms.
“It is very exciting to see the work progress on Blankenship Field,” Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Dr. Bruce Borchers said. “I know many community members and generous donors who spearheaded the initiative have waited a long time for this day to arrive.”
“The Board and I are very glad to see this project underway,” added Keys Fillauer, Chairman of the Oak Ridge Board of Education. “We are thankful for the support of the community and the many individuals who have made this happen. We are looking forward to the continued traditions of Blankenship Field.”
Wildcats fans lined up for their own piece of history from Blankenship Field on Friday afternoon. More than 50 people took home a square of the remaining sod as part of the groundbreaking celebration.