A state-of-the-art lighting system being installed at Brewer High School’s Heddericg Field is the latest step in a plan to establish a multipurpose facility capable of hosting both school sports and regional youth tournaments.
“We’re completing a lights phase with Musco LED lighting around what we intend to be the perimeter of the multiuse complex that we’ll have down there,” said Dave Utterback, athletic administrator of the Brewer School Department.
The cost of the lighting phase of the project is approximately $600,000, Utterback said, with most of the funding secured through grants and private donations.
“It’s certainly going to be a different looking skyline,” Utterback said. “The lights are going up this week, and then the electrician will come in and connect them right after that.”
The next phase of the effort is to install artificial turf on Heddericg Field, Brewer High’s baseball field, and the space immediately beyond its outfield fence, perhaps as soon as this summer.
“We’re going to exhaust every option we can for available fundraising opportunities that we’re aware of,” Utterback said. “There’s a lot of grant money out there right now that’s accessible for infrastructure projects and community improvement projects like this. We’ve put applications in a variety of different spots and feel like they’re pretty solid because we’ve got a shovel-ready project.
“Once we secure the funding we feel like we can roll into the next phase of it, and that’s what will make this attractive to somebody who’s looking to approve some of these projects.”
The plan would accommodate three full-size fields for use in a variety of sports including field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball and as a practice site for football, which plays its games on natural grass at nearby Doyle Field.
The facilities also would provide a versatile outdoor base for Brewer High School’s physical education students, who have been limited largely to the gymnasium for classes.
“[Installing] 210,000 square feet of artificial turf is the goal,” Utterback said. “That would go from the current Heddericg Field all the way over to the softball field in the other corner, just a big rectangle.
He is confident the entire project can be completed by the fall if the money can be raised.
“That’s ambitious, but we think we’ve got a pretty good project and a pretty good plan in place,” Utterback said.
The Heddericg Field renovation plan has been in the works since 2019, in part because of drainage issues that have left the natural-grass baseball field rarely usable during the spring in recent years.
Brewer’s varsity baseball team played just six of its 24 regular-season contests between 2017 and 2019 on its home field and practiced there only twice in 2019. The 2020 spring season was canceled statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With an artificial-turf field already in place at Hampden Academy and one being installed this year at Cameron Stadium in Bangor, the addition of an even larger complex in Brewer would give the area ample facilities to host youth sports tournaments during the summer that supporters believe could provide both recreational and economic benefits to the area.
“We really want our families to use this area for weekend tournaments and things like that instead of sending them all over New England and to southern Maine,” Utterback said. “People are into a variety of activities now, including soccer, 50/70 [Intermediate Little League] baseball, softball and field hockey, and lacrosse also is starting to take root here.
“The more of us that have these complexes, the bigger and the more complex tournaments we can have here, too, in collaboration with each other.”