‘Vintage venue, modern flair’

Published 2:39 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

Bulldog fans thrilled with improvements

The multi-million-dollar renovation of Andalusia High School’s stadium is not quite complete, but fans who attended the first game there last night were pleased with results.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Former AHS quarterback and current Circuit Judge Lex Short said.

The stadium opened in 1950 , and had not had major changes since then.

“It was envisioned 12 years ago when we were planning to do a renovation,” Short said. “It’s better than I ever imagined it could be.”

His brother-in-law, John Jones, agreed.

“I had no idea it would be this nice,” he said from the new upper deck. “I’m overwhelmed at the view.”

Norma Jackson is quite sure she attended that grand opening back in 1950, when the stadium was used for baseball and football. She was in the stadium again Friday night.

“I remember going to the new stadium back in elementary school,” she said. “I never thought it would be like this. It’s great.”

Crews from Wyatt Sasser Construction, the contractor for the projects, as well as city employees worked long and hard in the past few weeks to put safety details in place so that the state building inspector would OK the use of the field before the work is completed. Fencing was placed around areas that aren’t finished, and the city provided 24 golf carts to ferry people from the parking areas to the gates.

It was a tense week for many as officials awaited the inspector’s final blessing, which didn’t come until after 10 a.m. Friday morning. Count Patty Taylor, wife of head coach Trent Taylor, among the happiest in the stadium Friday night.

“It is really unbelievable,” she said. “All of this. You’ve seen the hashtag ‘#wedoitforthem.’ This is for all of them – the kids, parents and the fans,” she said. “I kind of get emotional about it.”

Taylor said she struggled to find the words to express the feeling of being in the long-awaited and talked-about stadium.

“Speechless. That would be a good word,” she said.

Enjoying the view from the very top of the upper deck with his wife and grandchildren, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said the stadium is going to be fabulous when it’s completely finished.

“It will be the nicest high school stadium in the state of Alabama,” he said, “and better than some small colleges.”

Steve Posey serves on the Andalusia Public Building Authority, which raised more than $1 million in private contributions for the school’s stadium and auditorium renovation projects

“It feels good to be here,” Posey said.

He said a lot of people worked really hard to get the venue ready to open Friday night, even as construction will continue.

“I’ll be glad when we get this completed,” he said.

Posey said the BPA looked at many drawings throughout the process, but none of them adequately depicted the way the stadium actually looks.


Very few AHS students had been in the stadium before Friday night, AHS principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare said.

“We just got released this morning,” he said, referring to the blessing of the state building commissioner. “Ninety percent of the kids got to see it for the first time tonight,” he said.

He thinks his students feel the same way about it that he does.

“I love it,” he said.

Lucky Cope, who’s one of the Bulldogs’ biggest fans, chose not to move to the new upper deck.

“I wanted the parents and grandparents to have those seats,” he said.

From seats at the top of the old reserved section, he talked about the stadium between plays.

Cope said when Jeremiah Castille came to Andalusia to put on a football camp earlier this summer, he and the other former pro players were impressed.

“They wanted to know what NFL player who was from here was paying for this,” he said, indicating the stadium. “They couldn’t believe a community would go out and do this on their own.”

With the exception of the new pressbox, stadium renovations are expected to be completed by homecoming, which is in October.

While he’s looking forward to the project being completed, Superintendent Ted Watson said the stadium is already an awesome venue.

“It’s a vintage venue with a kiss of modern flare,” he said, adding that the mix is right for Andalusia, which prides itself on traditions.