Field of dreams
Austin-based Hellas installs turf for Allen High School's new $60 million‘pigskin palace’
When the Allen High School football team takes the field this Friday against rival Southlake Carroll, the players will be stepping foot on new artificial turf installed by Austin-based Hellas Construction Inc.
You’ve probably heard about Allen’s new 18,000-seat stadium, the largest sports venue in Texas that’s solely for one high school. (By comparison, the Round Rock Independent School District’s stadium can accommodate about 16,500 people.) The Allen stadium stands as a $60 million symbol of the state’s passion for high school football, a venue the New York Daily News dubbed a “pigskin palace.”
Hellas’ bread and butter is making and installing surfaces — namely turf — for sports venues. About 60 of Hellas’ 350 or so employees worked on the installation at Allen High School.
You probably haven’t heard about Hellas, which does business as Hellas Sports Construction. But you undoubtedly know about some of Hellas’ high-profile athletic turf projects. Those include installing turf at the $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Odessa’s Ratliff Stadium and the newly renovated football stadium at the University of California’s main campus in Berkeley.
Hellas’ bread and butter is making and installing surfaces — namely turf — for sports venues. About 60 of Hellas’ 350 or so employees worked on the installation in Allen of the company’s flagship Matrix Turf, company spokeswoman Annika Lundmark said. That’s the same brand of turf found at the Cowboys’ stadium.
Reed Seaton founded Hellas in 2003, the same year that his previous employer, Leander-based SRI Sports Inc., went bankrupt. SRI was best known for making and selling AstroTurf. This year, Hellas expects to generate revenue of $104 million.
In establishing Hellas, Seaton told Construction Today that he “saw a need in the industry for a different kind of company that could offer a seamless process of consultation, construction and ultimately the installation of technologically advanced synthetic turf and track systems.”
Seaton is co-owner, president and CEO of Hellas. In 2011, the privately owned company sold a minority stake to Royal TenCate, an industrial conglomerate based in The Netherlands. The value of that stake wasn’t disclosed.
For the Allen Independent School District, choosing Hellas to provide about 90,000 square feet of turf for the new stadium was a no-brainer. In a Hellas news release, the school district’s athletic director, Steve Williams, said the company “has the best product on the market today.”
“You hear people say they are Chevy people. Some say they are Ford people,” Williams said. “We are Hellas people.”
A community pep rally and open house was held Aug. 23 at the new stadium. Williams said Allen’s old stadium was built in 1976 to hold 7,200 fans. Since then, enrollment at the high school has soared to about 5,000.
“Even after two (stadium) expansions and the addition of temporary seating for 7,000, we (were) still unable to accommodate everyone — the fans, our concessions, the media and so on,” Williams said in the Hellas news release.