A unique playing surface installed by Chattanooga's Competition Athletic Construction will make the Phil Niekro Field near Gainesville, Georgia accessible to the entire community, including athletes with disabilities.

The ball field, which is named in honor of the former Atlanta Braves pitching ace, is part of Alberta Banks Park in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Mr. Niekro threw out the celebratory first pitch when the facility opened in November.

According to Steve Clift, president of Competition Athletic Construction, the playing field is surfaced with high-end resilient matting, the same material used in collegiate and Olympic-caliber Mondo Super X running tracks. The result is a surface that accommodates wheelchairs in competitive conditions.

Niekro Field

"The tolerances for these surfaces are extremely tight, from grading to paving and surfacing. Our clients tell us we're one of the few companies capable of and willing to undertake a project like this," said Mr. Clift.

"In this case, however, our sense of accomplishment was heightened knowing that we were helping to create a park that would not only be accessible to people with disabilities, but would really engage them in activities they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do," Mr. Clift added.

Competition Athletic Construction has a growing reputation for high-quality tennis court, running track and sports field installations, particularly at the collegiate level. The company has recently installed surfaces for three prestigious Southeastern Conference Tennessee programs at the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, and Mississippi State University.

Funding for Phil Niekro Park came from the State of Georgia, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the North Georgia Community Foundation, and the Atlanta Braves Foundation, among others. More information about the project is available at www.hallcounty.org.

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