Turf field, upgrades coming to THS football stadium
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
Thompson High School football players and fans likely will see several changes at Alabaster’s Larry Simmons Stadium, including a turf field and a new press box, by the time the 2014 football season starts.
The Alabaster Board of Education is set to vote on a project to make significant upgrades at the stadium during its April 14 meeting.
Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said the project’s cost would be determined by bid amounts, but said the project is “not cheap.”
“It will not exceed $1 million, and it will have a huge impact,” Vickers said during an April 9 Alabaster Board of Education work session. “We will play this season and possibly two more seasons in that stadium. We want to make sure it is something that represents us well.
During the April 9 work session, project manager Seawell McKee with the McKee and Associates architectural firm gave School Board members a rundown of the stadium upgrades.
If approved, the project will add a synthetic turf field in place of the natural grass field currently at the stadium.
The project also calls for removal of the current press box on the visitors’ side and the construction of a new five-room press box above the home stands, which is the side closest to Thompson Road.
The project also includes seal coating and restriping the asphalt track, reconstructing track accessories such as the long jump pad and improving the stadium’s drainage.
“We are also fixing ‘lake Thompson’ behind the Intermediate School. We need to fix that,” Vickers said, noting the parking lot behind the school frequently floods.
The project also calls for repainting the field house, adding bricks around the steel columns on the outside of the field house and adding a dedicated sports medicine training room.
A new scoreboard, 25-second clock and goal posts also will be installed on the football field.
School Board member Ty Quarles called the upgrades a “good investment.”
“We are in Class 7A. That’s the (Birmingham) metro,” Quarles said. “We’ll be hosting Hoover and Trussville in our house.”
Alabaster is preparing to build a new high school and athletic complex within the next few years. When THS moves into its new athletic facility, Larry Simmons Stadium likely will serve as the Thompson Middle School stadium and will be available for special events.
“Your football stadium is the best opportunity to impact a lot of people quickly,” Vickers said. “I want people to leave that stadium and say ‘Wow, what a difference they’ve made for their kids.’”