BRISTOL , Tenn. — Tennessee High School supporters will soon have a new legacy outside the gates of the historic Stone Castle stadium.
“The Legacy Wall” is being erected just yards from the 77-year-old fortress and is being included as part of phase one of a three-phase, $3.2 million project to repair and refurbish the landmark. Built as part of the Works Progress Administration, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
THS Athletic Director Paul Pendleton says more than 700 inscribed bricks have already been purchased by families, former athletes, local businesses and others for a segment of the wall that will be unveiled Sept. 27 during the varsity football home game against Elizabethton.
“Response to the project and donating to it has been very positive,” Pendelton said, regarding sales of the special bricks and events such as a recent auction that raised more than $80,000 in one evening as part of the “Fortify the Castle” initiative.
Visitors to stonecastle.org can select from two sizes of bricks, a 4-inch by 8-inch or an 8-inch by 8-inch, and place 18 characters per line. The website allows those purchasing bricks to preview what they will look like upon delivery.
Another part of phase one will take place once football season ends in November, when the school will take delivery of a new $856,000 synthetic turf playing surface. It will be designed and installed by the FieldTurf company, an international firm that has constructed artificial fields for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and the famous “blue turf” field at Boise State University in Idaho .
Pendleton says Tennessee High’s field will include the power T design at midfield and “Vikings” in a special script layout in both end zones.
Other construction and improvements to the Stone Castle in phase one:
$36,000 for six new seating areas with hand railing and seating for the disabled;
$147,000 for concrete recoating and reconstruction for the home bleachers;
$73,000 for reserved seating with contoured back rests;
$100,000 to grade and repave each end of Memorial Stadium to improve access to restrooms, the plaza area and playing field.
$41,000 to remove a portion of the existing stone structure to help widen the existing player entrance and the installation of wrought iron gating.
The school system and City Council have already earmarked $400,000 for phase one construction based on a December 2010 strategic needs study for the schools. Members of the community, faculty, administration and students all had input in the study, which revealed that the Stone Castle is limited in use due to its age and problems with the playing surface during weather events.
Other cosmetic and capital improvements scheduled in the project’s second and third phases will be upgrades to home and visitor dressing rooms, repair of windows and gates, new concession stands, new restrooms and a scoreboard. Those phases total well over $2 million. All three phases are tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2015, according to Pendleton.
“This is not just for football. This is part of our generation’s legacy to Bristol ,” Pendleton said. “The improvements can help keep this a community center for Bristol , and make it usable in several instances, including football. We have to do our part to repair it and keep it strong so that other generations can enjoy it like we have.”
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