Study: Horry County high schools need $27.5 million in outdoor sports facility upgrades

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – As the new high school sports season kicks off in Horry County with the first football games Friday, the school district is hearing it may need tens of millions of dollars in athletic facility upgrades.

With cracks on the baselines, Conway High School’s tennis teams can’t play matches at home anymore.

“Their courts are in such bad shape, they cannot even practice there,” said HCS athletics director Roger Dixon.

The Tigers are far from alone.

After finding several tracks and tennis courts weren’t safe for competition, Horry County Schools hired CHA Consulting to study outdoor sports facilities at all nine high schools.

Those consultants say HCS needs to spend $27,576,000 on upgrades.

“This was done through a collaborative process, meeting with the athletic directors and principals at each of the high schools,” said Patrick Graham of CHA Consulting.

The study says $14,974,000 is needed for upgrades around football stadiums, baseball or softball facilities and general practice fields. Several football stadiums need improvements for things like restrooms, concession stands, press boxes, ticket offices, fencing, lighting, scoreboards and parking.

Various baseball and softball facilities need upgrades for backstop netting, bullpens, batting cages, restrooms, concessions, press boxes, drainage and practice infields. More general practice fields are needed, as well as lighting at some existing ones.

HCS tracks and infields need $7,922,000 of work at eight high schools. Most of that would go towards laying eight lanes and 400 meters of rubber, which only Myrtle Beach High School has at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

Existing pavement would need to be milled at Aynor, North Myrtle Beach and Socastee high schools. Asphalt would be removed and replaced at Carolina Forest, Green Sea Floyds, Loris and St. James high schools.

Conway would have the rubber surface placed over its existing pavement track. All tracks would also have inside drains and rubber areas at the end of infields for jumping events, discus and shot put.

Infields would need $897,000 of that $7.9 million for drainage improvements for Carolina Forest, Conway, North Myrtle Beach and Socastee, while Green Sea Floyds needs drainage and irrigation upgrades.

“When we were looking at the tracks, we were looking from actually the center of the playing field out to try to help us with drainage, water and electricity,” Dixon said.

All nine high school tennis facilities need $4,681,000 in renovations, ideally to have five courts per school and safer, more durable playing surfaces.

“We’ve had where the previous patching or the surface has come loose, where a player could catch a shoe in the surface,” said Dixon. “It could cause them to go down.”

North Myrtle Beach’s courts would only need crack repair and resurfacing. The other eight high schools need a “full depth replacement,” including elevated courts, drainage and new fencing with windscreens.

The consultants also recommended doing the track and tennis improvements in three phases. The projects would start with the facilities in the worst shape.

Phase one would be for tennis courts at Carolina Forest, Conway and Green Sea Floyds. Track projects would be done at Carolina Forest, Loris and St. James. That would cost $4,746,000.

Phase two would be for tracks at Aynor, Green Sea Floyds and North Myrtle Beach. Tennis court improvements would be done at Aynor, St. James and Socastee. That would cost $4,817,000.

Phase three’s tennis projects would be at Loris, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. The track improvements would be at Conway and Socastee. That would cost $3,041,000.

HCS has not approved any of the recommended upgrades and is still figuring out how it would pay for them.

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