FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2012
(Huntsville, AL) – A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Wednesday, July 18, at Alabama A&M University's Louis Crews Stadium. A host of dignitaries, including A&M President Dr. Andrew Hugine, City School Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski, and Mayor Tommy Battle, were on hand to "roll out the turf", priming the way for a new $1.1 million artificial turf field.
The durable turf will allow the 21,000-seat stadium to host Huntsville's six high school football teams while still accommodating A&M’s collegiate schedule. A&M, the City of Huntsville and Huntsville City Schools are splitting the cost with the City and the School Board paying up to $289,000.
“We are glad to be up here with our educational partners at A&M, and we are pleased that we did not have to spend millions of dollars for a new stadium,” said Dr. Wardynski. “Louis Crews stadium is a better facility than we could ever have provided our athletes.”
The superintendent said an economic analysis showed that Milton Frank Stadium needed significant upgrades and Goldsmith-Schiffman would need to be replaced. A new high school stadium could easily run $6 million, and the School Board decided it made sense to partner with a world-class facility that taxpayers had already funded.
The new partnership allows City Schools to phase out the use of Goldsmith-Schiffman Field and invest $3.2 million into renovations to upgrade Milton Frank stadium, their primary venue for high school football. Milton Frank will host 21 games this fall, and Louis Crews is expected to host 10 high school as well as four middle school games.
The arrangement allows A&M University to share one of its prime assets with the broader community and still retain its collegiate schedule without fear of damaged turf.
“This is the role universities can and should play in their communities, and A & M is honored to serve as another home base for our high school football programs,” said Dr. Hugine.
Mayor Battle called the partnership a “win-win” for everyone, and said high school parents and students are in for a real treat.
“The Louis Crews stadium is one of the finest sports facilities in the state, and I can imagine how exciting it will be for our young athletes to have this opportunity to play in a collegiate setting,” said Mayor Battle.
In the past, the Huntsville Sports Commission has also retained the Louis Crews Stadium for the Alabama High School Athletic Association All Star Sports Week and they hosted an International Soccer game between the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and Trinidad and Tobago National team at the University’s facility.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to host even more major sporting events on the Campus of Alabama A&M,” said Ralph Stone, Director of the Huntsville Sports Commission. “These improvements will draw attention from event planners across the nation looking for a venue with this quality field and seating capacity.”
The City and School Board will also pay A&M a $1,750 stadium use fee for every middle and high school game played at Louis Crews stadium. The turf is expected to take two months to install and should be in place by October 1.