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Partial demolition of Fouts Field set to begin next week
Tyler Owens / Senior Staff Writer
Demolition is set to begin on the end zone bleachers and east concourse of Fouts Field on June 17.
The west concourse and stands – the side closest to I-35 – will remain, so the track and field team can use the facility for its events.
Athletic director Rick Villarreal said that the partial demolition of the stadium, which opened in 1952, is only a temporary solution for the site.
“In the master plan, there is a parking garage that is planned for that area, some green space and some additional buildings,” Villarreal said. “So a lot of it will have to do with when funding might become available to build some of those structures.”
He said that there is available space for the construction of a new track and field facility in Mean Green Village, which currently houses multiple university athletic programs.
Senior hurdler Steven White, who finished in third place in the NCAA Championships men’s 400-meter hurdles on June 12, said that a new facility would mean a lot for the team.
“It’s well overdue considering how much we’ve accomplished in the four years I’ve been here, like the girls’ two consecutive Sun Belt championships,” White said.
Head track and field coach Carl Sheffield ran his final high school meet at Fouts Field and said that he would like to see the stadium preserved and renovated, but understands the importance of a new facility.
“I initially wanted a new facility, and I still want a new facility, but if they could preserve Fouts and just upgrade it, then that would be awesome to me,” Sheffield said. “I think there would be a lot of alumni and track and field people that would love to see Fouts stay.”
Sheffield said that although it might alter the way the wind blows on the track, the demolition of the stadium will not affect the team’s day-to-day activities.
“If they put grass and sod there it’ll be nice,” he said. “I think we’ll figure out ways to make it accommodating for spectators, but it won’t affect us very much at all.”
As a preservation of the stadium’s history, the construction team will attempt to remove nine stone panels, called “reliefs,” from Fouts Field. There are three variations of the carvings on the panels: one represents a football player, one is a track athlete and another is in the shape of an eagle.
If they are able to remove those reliefs, the athletic department plans to display them at various points across campus.
The cost of demolition is estimated at about $150,000 and is expected to be completed by late August. The money for the project came from leftover money in the budget for the construction of Apogee Stadium.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Villarreal said of the demolition of the historic stadium. “It’s part of your history that’s coming down – everything from Joe Greene playing in that stadium to winning Sun Belt Conference championships. So there’s a sad part to it, but it also marks movement forward.”