GATESVILLE — After 47 years, McKamie Stadium is ready for an update.
Built in 1966, Gatesville’s home stadium has seen plenty of wins and losses over the years, but beginning next season, the stadium could have a new look.
Plans are in motion to renovate the facility, including replacing the natural grass with turf and expanding the track to meet UIL regulations.
Should everything go according to plan, the renovations would be complete in mid August, and Gatesville head football coach/athletic director Kyle Cooper could not be happier.
“I see it as not only a great opportunity for our football program, but for our band, our soccer teams and our track kids,” Cooper said. “(It is even beneficial) on down to our kids at the lower levels, whether it is for P.E. or field days or youth programs. … I just think it is something our community has been needing for a really long time.”
While plans for the project were discussed at Monday evening’s regularly scheduled school board meeting, nothing is official as of yet. A preproposal meeting will be held Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., when potential bidders come to Gatesville to view the site prior to submitting a quote for the job.
Bids on the project are due by May 28 by 2 p.m. and a special board meeting is set for June 5 at 6 p.m. to discuss pricing and to select a contractor.
“(The school board) could come in and say, ‘We don’t want to do it,’” Gatesville ISD superintendent Stewart Speer said. “It doesn’t sound like that will happen. It really sounds like everyone is on board. I haven’t had any opposition to it.”
The project can begin as soon as graduation is complete and the campus is cleared of students, according to Huckabee Architects vice president Daren Kirbo. Should the work take longer than scheduled, Cooper has arranged to play the Hornets’ season opener on August 30 and the following game, if necessary, at McGregor. The Bulldogs play their first two games of the season on the road.
A major reason for the renovations stems from the amount of upkeep the grass surface requires due to the wear and tear it takes from the elements, such as lack of rain and damaging ultraviolet rays.
“When you look at the economics of turf, it pays for itself,” Cooper said. “Fiscally, the responsible decision to make is to put it down.”
“Right now, if it is raining on Tuesday or Wednesday, we are not going to play a junior high game on Thursday,” added Speer. “The field can’t take it. It would be gone for the rest of the year.”
In addition to resurfacing the track, the lanes would be widened to accommodate UIL regulations. Currently, the track is comprised of eight 36-inch lanes, which will be expanded to 42 inches each.
“We would have the ability to host our district meets, area meets from the lower levels (Class 1A and 2A) and possibly even some 3A meets,” Cooper said. “Potentially, that opportunity is extremely alluring.”
Other renovations include modifying the stands to be more accessible to the handicapped and placing stands for the school band behind the end zone.
Once the project is complete, Cooper believes McKamie Stadium will have a wide appeal for teams looking for a neutral site to play postseason games, which would be economically beneficial to both the school system and the city as a whole.
“Having this nice of a facility in Central Texas, we are going to draw a number of programs to the area,” he said. “The Waco, I-35 corridor is always slammed. Every year, it is hard to get those fields booked come football playoff time or for soccer playoffs. We are centrally located, so it is a great place for people to meet up, and if we have the facilities to support that, then those opportunities are going to present themselves to us.”