Opp plans makeover for Channel-Lee stadium

Published 2:13 am Thursday, May 27, 2010

Opp’s Channel-Lee Stadium will soon be getting a more than $400,000 facelift, officials said Wednesday.

As a joint venture between the city of Opp and Opp City Schools, the more than 50-year-old stadium will be renovated. Work is expected to begin in approximately 30 days.

At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, the board approved an architectural agreement with McKee and Associates of Montgomery. While the property is officially city-owned, the schools have use of it.

“Our plans are to demolish the existing wall and all buildings on the south side of the stadium and replace the wall as well as construct a new pressbox/concession stand and restrooms,” OCS superintendent Michael Smithart said. “There will be a plaza area in front of the buildings that will assist with people walking to and from.”

Smithart said the board is currently awaiting final approval from the building commission.

Opp Mayor H.D. Edgar said the plans are to spend more than $400,000 on the project.

“We are working with the school board; they were able to come up with zero percent money to renovate the stadium,” Edgar said.

Opp was awarded $375,000 in interest-free Qualified School Construction Bonds, a federal program designed to finance the construction or repair of public school buildings.

Smithart said there is also a commitment from the Opp Booster Club to assist with the balance on the project.

Both Smithart and Edgar said there has been a lot of discussion about renovations over the years.

“We looked at it as an opportunity to work with our city government and pool resources to do something nice that will project the standards we have here in Opp,” Smithart said.

Edgar said the city partnered with the school system to help pay back the money used to fund the project.

“The stadium was built in the early ‘50s and it had been in need of major renovations for years now,” he said. “By partnering with the school, we’ve been able to go ahead with the project.”

“This is another example of the school system and the city coming together,” Smithart said. “Projects like this don’t often come about and it is such a joy to have the relationship with our city that we enjoy and know that we share the same vision for our facilities.”

Smithart said there is a need to provide greater services to the fans that utilize the stadium.

“Our current restrooms are inadequate, and we wanted to provide greater handicap accessibility,” he said.

Edgar said they had originally hoped for the project to be completed by football season, but said that timeline wasn’t feasible at this point.

Although the renovations won’t be complete in time for football season, Edgar said it would not interfere with any football games.

“We may have to have a temporary pressbox,” he said. “But we’re not doing anything to the seats. We will be able continue on.”