FORT HOOD — For the first time since 1951, a new stadium opened at Fort Hood Friday as the first piece in a new sports and entertainment complex.
“This is soon to be one of the best facilities on Fort Hood,” said Brig. Gen. James Richardson, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander.
During the Friday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests were able to tour the new Hood Stadium, which features a blue, eight-lane track, grass field and seating for 5,500 with chairs that have arm rests and backs.
Two dressing/locker rooms, two concession stands and two restrooms are also part of the stadium. Bleachers stand on one side, with a press box.
“This project represents a true team effort,” Richardson said.
The stadium was built for $14 million and the field will be known as Prichard Field, to pay homage to the old stadium, which was named after Maj. Gen. Vernon E. Prichard, former commander of the 1st and 14th Armored Divisions. A West Point graduate, he was a former quarterback and captain of the Army football team, and All-American quarterback in the 1914 season in which Army was undefeated at 9-0.
Thanks to a contract with Killeen Independent School District, today’s local football stars will get their chance at glory on Prichard Field.
On Friday night, Shoemaker High School faced off against Harker Heights High School, and another game is scheduled next week.
A game scheduled last week had to be canceled because the stadium wasn’t quite ready, said Brian Dosa, director of the Directorate of Public Works.
“The main complication was some of the rain,” he said.
Because the Killeen school district has four high schools and only one stadium, using Hood Stadium as a venue can allow teams to play on Friday night, as opposed to Thursday, something district Superintendent Robert Muller said they try to avoid so it doesn’t interfere with the next school day.
“We are very appreciative they have opened up this venue,” he said. “This is a great place to play high school football. ... As we set the schedule for next year, we anticipate being able to play here on Friday night.”
The field will be used by Fort Hood for intramural football as well as annual events including Freedom Fest, Month of the Military Child, Earth Fest and other concerts and carnivals. The original Hood Stadium was torn down to make room for the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, which is under construction.
“It’s not only a benefit for soldiers and families, but all of Central Texas,” Richardson said. “We wish all the teams the best of luck as they compete on the field of dreams at our new stadium.”
A concert stage and four-field softball complex are expected to be completed by the end of this year, Dosa said. Construction of a covered picnic pavilion is under way.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.