End of an era for Enterprise's Bates Memorial Stadium

The stadium after the March 1, 2007 tornado
The stadium after the March 1, 2007 tornado

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Enterprise, AL (WSFA) - It's the end of an era in Enterprise.

After more than 50 years, Bates Memorial Stadium held its final game Friday night.

Known as "The Hole", the stadium has seen 54 years of high school football, including 247 wins,  but to the school and community, it's more than a place to play football.

Mike McQueen, a former player, said, "I still remember the crowd cheering, and looking up there and seeing thousands of people who really cared about what you did.  I still get goose bumps just thinking about it."

Heather Pilcher, a senior at Enterprise High School said, "It's been an awesome time coming here for the games and stuff, and we have so many traditions."

Back in 2007, a tornado ripped through the high school, killing 8 students and destroying the campus.

But somehow, the stadium withstood the storm.

Enterprise High School Principal Rick Rainer said, "It's almost a symbol of survival to a lot of us."

And for the students, it's their only real link to their alma mater.

Enterprise High School Head Football Coach Kevin Collins said, "They've never been in a traditional school.  They've been spread out all over this city.  This is the only constant that they've had."

And for former players, this stadium is a place of fond memories.

McQueen said, "Some of the most significant memories of my life were in and around this stadium.  And when you played football, this is where it happened."

Harrell Thompson, a member of the team that played its first game at the stadium remembers that game well.  He came back, to see a game one last time.

Fans say the traditions of the stadium will live on much longer than the time on the game clock.  Its storied history will remain in the hearts of the players, the school, and the community.

The new high school and stadium are set to open next fall.

©2009 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.