AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Friday night, the Aquinas High School Fightin’ Irish will play their last game on their current football field. Next week, construction will begin on their new sports complex.

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this new $8.6 million complex. The current field was built in 1977, and a stadium that old comes with a lot of problems.

The stands are old and too small. The field, which converts to a soccer field, only has one permanent football goal and the grass field has a lot of issues too.

“You know with an older field and over time you’re going to get divots and stuff like that. You know, with this much grass, with baseball connecting to football can be hard at times to keep up, especially in the summer,” explained Aquinas’s athletic director, James Leonard.

The baseball field, built in the 60’s, has issues as well. It is connected to the football field and has the same problems with old bleachers. The Aquinas baseball and softball teams have never been able to play a home game at night because the field doesn’t have lights.

Another problem they have is that the baseball and soccer fields overlap. 

Soon all of that will change, when the entire sports complex is torn down and replaced. The new sports complex includes new football/soccer and baseball fields.

Artist rendering on new athletic complex. Courtesy: Aquinas High School.

The new plans rotate the football/soccer field 90 degrees and shift the baseball field closer to Highland Avenue, creating enough space to completely separate the two fields.

It’ll also have new stands and concessions. And the baseball field will finally get its lights.

The football team’s quarterback, Jim Franklin, thinks the new complex will move the school into a new era.

“You know, I think it’s going to be good for Aquinas as a whole. You know we’re getting a lot of great new facilities and a lot of people have put a bunch of time and work into this new project. So, you know, I’m really excited to see… just everything that’s gonna be new.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will happen during half-time at Friday night’s game against Jefferson County.

Principal, Maureen Lewis, said everyone is looking forward to saying goodbye to the old field and celebrating the new one.

“I think it’s bittersweet. It’s so exciting that we are moving ahead with a new era for athletic facilities here at the home of the Irish. But also, we’ve had so many great times here.”

The complex should be complete for the 2024-2025 school year. In the meantime, this season the Fightin’ Irish will play their final 2 home games at Greenbrier High School.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.