There were no bathrooms, lockers or white boards at Hood Stadium, where high school football teams met during halftime last season. It was just a storage room emptied of its usual clutter.
The absence of locker rooms at the new Fort Hood facility was the one complication that stood in the way of the district using the stadium in the future and reverting back to playing high school football games on Thursday nights at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“It’s kind of a deal-killer of whether we use Fort Hood Stadium or not. Because, without those I don’t think we can use the stadium,” Killeen Independent School District Superintendent Robert Muller said.
The KISD board of trustees approved a $360,000 project last Thursday to build two multi-use facilities, essentially dressing rooms, at Hood Stadium.
The board approved the measure by a 4-3 vote, with members JoAnn Purser, Susan Jones, Ken Ray and Shelley Wells voting in favor of the project. Members Terry Delano, Corbett Lawler and Minverva Trujillo voted against it.
“Is it perfect? No. Is it Buckley Stadium, absolutely not. But, it is a viable stadium,” Muller said.
The ruling has significant impact for Copperas Cove. The Bulldawgs are scheduled to play three District 8-5A games against Killeen, Ellison and Harker Heights at Hood Stadium.
Thanks to the board’s approval, Copperas Cove ensures it plays the games as scheduled in the stadium the team recently coined “Bulldawg East.” It is believed Hood Stadium will become the site of all future games between the Bulldawgs and KISD schools, essentially giving Copperas Cove a second home stadium.
Additionally, Hood Stadium presents the quickest fix to eliminate Thursday night or Saturday games at Leo Buckley Stadium, a practice that started in 2000 when the district opened its third and fourth high schools, Harker Heights and Shoemaker.
The cost of hosting a single game at Hood Stadium is between about $4,400 and $4,600, according to a preliminary cost analysis from the district’s business office. Games at Leo Buckley cost the district about $6,500, but the district does not have to pay to use it.
“If you look at the figures, we’re spending about, over the next five years, $400-and-something thousand dollars to avoid playing on Thursday nights. That’s close to half a million dollars and I just think that given today’s troubling economic times, we can find something better to do with that money, much more productive,” said board member Corbett Lawler.
The two stand-alone buildings will cost the district about $358,000, which will be added to the current construction costs of the district’s 33rd elementary school.
“To me, the ability to have use of that stadium precludes us from, or doesn’t necessarily set us up to having to build this new stadium at $30 million,” said board member Susan Jones.
Construction on the two 738-square-foot buildings — little more than four walls and a roof — is set to begin July 16 and is expected to finish August 27, three days before hosting is first football game of the 2013 season. They will not have lockers, bathrooms or central heat or air.
The school district also considered renovating the stadium at Shoemaker at one time, but that would’ve cost an estimated $1.7 million four years ago.
A completely new stadium is tentatively scheduled for 2019 on the district’s long-term facilities plan, but it is estimated to cost about $30 million.
The measure was set to be approved at a meeting April 9, but had to be tabled because the district, at the time, only had a “memorandum of understanding” with Fort Hood to use the stadium.
The Texas Education Code states that school districts cannot spend funds for the design, construction or renovation of improvements to property that they do not own or lease.
The district hosted three games at Hood Stadium last season and nine are scheduled in the 2013 season.
“The property on Fort Hood is lease property, and I just always thought it was a pretty wise old adage that you don’t put major capital investments into property that you lease, that you’re renting. My primary concern was just the dollar figure,” Lawler said. “I don’t like to play games on Thursday, but it’s doable, and you can certainly make it work.”