Monday, August 31, 2009

Durham Co. Stadium has come a long way

DURHAM - As a member of the Rocky Mount Senior High marching band, I got my first look at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Sept. of 1973 when the Gryphons made a trip there to play Durham Hillside in football.

I remember that the slopes on the side of the stadium were so steep that we almost had to slide by the seat of our black wool pants to get down to the field to perform at halftime.

Has that place come a long way since then!

Now primarily the home of Northern Durham's football teams, Durham County has plunked down $8 million for some major renovations to the 50-year-old stadium - coming in three phases. Rocky Mount's football fans, who last saw the Gryphons play there in 1999, observed much of Phase I's upgrades Saturday evening when they arrived to watch the Gryphons take on the Knights.

Phase I, which began this past April, consists of an artificial turf football and soccer playing field, new scoreboard, storage facility and a high school level track and field facility. The scoreboard and field are in and it was played on for the very first time Saturday night.

It is the only artificial turf (field turf) high school field in eastern North Carolina. They are several in the western part of the state - including every high school in Buncombe County (T.C. Roberson, Asheville, A.C. Reynolds, Enka, Owen, Erwin, North Buncombe).

Phase II will consist of new outbuildings for the south grandstand containing public restrooms, concessions buildings and ticket booths. Also, this phase will implement landscaping improvements and new paved ADA parking spaces for both north and south grandstands.

Phase III, which begins after the conclusion of the 2009 football season, will see the renovation of the existing locker rooms, public restrooms and concession stands within the north and south grandstands as well as the construction of a new, expanded press box facility.

The press box will be ADA compliant and include elevator access, open and enclosed viewing areas, two coaches’ boxes, media/broadcast booth, announcer/scoring booth, and video deck. All enclosed spaces will be heated and air conditioned.

Amen to that! It was quite a steep climb to get to that current press box.

With all the changes due to be completed by the beginning of next season, the 8,000-seat facility would make a fine site for a state championship football contest(s) should the NCHSAA want to bring it back to Durham.

Duke University dropped out of the current rotation to host state championship games a few years back, but this cozy and future state-of-the-art stadium would be just perfect for the 1-As or 2-As state finals.

No comments: