By Mac McLeod
When the Overton County School Board unanimously approved $4.3 million to construct a new football stadium at Livingston Academy, it crossed the first of many hurdles in the future and Monday the building committee met with engineer Don Collins and architect John Cheney to move on to the next step.
For almost four years the topic of a new stadium has been kicked around, not for lack of the need of one, but other obstacles including funding and other concerns. It finally became apparent that the subject could not be avoided much longer and surveying started at the current facility as early as last fall.
With a drawing of that survey on the table, board members Mike Hayes, chairman, Mike Sullivan, and Dolphus Dial, along with Director of Schools Dr. Mark Winningham, sat down with Collins and Cheney to see exactly what was wanted and what could and could not be removed from early plans.
“I think we decided to tear down the old facility and go back with the new one in much the same space,” Hayes stated. “We want to keep the 2,500 seats on the home side and 1,000 on the visitors side,” he added.
After several moments of discussion on how big crowds were, weren’t, and could or could not be, those numbers stayed.
Paving a handicap parking lot on the west end of the stadium drew some discussion, but was agreed that it was badly needed. The current concession stand and restrooms on the east end of the stadium would be removed and relocated on the west end. A restroom and concession stand on the visitor’s side was also included.
“Now that we have decided to move forward, let’s do it right the first time,” committeeman Sullivan pointed. “There’s no need to piece meal it now then have to go down this road again.”
Collins then explained that the drainage at the west end of the stadium would have to be addressed and a little more surveying may be needed.
“We know there’s a swampy area there,” the engineer pointed out, “so we’ll get the survey team back in here and see just what we need to do. It’s nothing that we can’t solve.”
The board explained to Cheney that they would like to have a little more room on each sideline and that appeared to be no problem and a walking path completely around the facility was needed.
“We want people to be able to move around the field for whatever reason and also, we will have to include a drive through gate at the west end for emergency vehicles to have access to any location on the grounds,” Hayes added.
Cheney told the board that there were various designs for a new press box and the board asked for a drawing at its next meeting for something with perhaps four sections that would provide room for coaches from both teams, film teams, reporters, and radio stations.
When Cheney and Collins complete their work, they will return to the board “as soon as possible” with drawings and expenses and start moving. “We will work in phases,” Cheney told the board, “and will see where expenses are at various stages of the project. We will be bidding portions of the project out and will have room to add or subtract as we move along.”
Hayes said in closing, “Right now, I’m comfortable with where we are and anxious to move forward. This is something we have needed for a while and now it’s starting to take place. Now we will just wait on John (Cheney) to get back to us and go from there.”
Cheney added that he would report to the committee and or the entire school board as the project advances to make sure everybody is kept up to date.
Dr. Winningham added that work was about halfway through on replacing portions of the LA gym floor that was damaged with water problems back in the winter and spring.