Alex City to begin renovating Hamp Lyon Stadium - Montgomery Alabama news.

Alex City to begin renovating Hamp Lyon Stadium


This week, on our Hometown Spotlight, WSFA 12 News Reporter Melissa Johnson featured Alexander City.

LIVE on Today in Alabama, Mayor Charles Shaw announced that a big renovation is in the works for the old high-school football stadium, Hamp Lyon Stadium.

Since the Sportsplex was build 12 years ago, Hamp Lyon has been neglected and has fallen into disrepair.

This beloved stadium is very significant to generations of Alexander City citizens, once the home field of State Champion teams and players that went on to play college and professional football. Hundreds of cheerleaders, majorettes and Homecoming Queens have fond memories of Hamp Lyon.

The city will soon break ground on a renovation project that will bring Hamp Lyon back to its glory days. The plans are to resurface the field, build a new concession stand, put in new bleachers, and add sidewalks, benches, and much more.

As part of our Hometown Spotlight, Reporter Melissa Johnson also showed us what makes Alex City special.

Right now, the city is on the brink of its busy season—the lake season. It's a time the entire community depends on, not just the businesses along the lake. They're kicking things off with two big festivals. The JazzFest, which is set for June 13th and 14th, attracts people downtown on that Friday and to the Lake Martin Amphitheater on Saturday for two days of jazz.

Fran Harvey, the Mayor's Executive Assistant, said, "JazzFest started as a small, cozy festival, with about 100 people.  And last year we had over 10,000 people during the two day festival.  We heard of people coming from Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma.  They make their family vacation a trip to Lake Martin, and they plan it around the JazzFest."

Later this month, on June 19th - 26th, the 2nd annual Sun Festival is planned.

Ann Rye, the President and CEO of the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce, said, "Last year, we definitely tracked a tourism effect from hosting 51 events over an 8-day period.  It all culminated at the end of that week with a national talent artist.  We have music and fireworks—it's just a big celebration of our community."

These festivals are both an opportunity to engage the community and a chance  to show off all Alexander City has to offer.

"I think it is definitely like cracking open a treasure chest and showing off what we have inside because so many time, people who come to the lake just stay on the lake.  They don't realize all the resources and assets that we have to support their lifestyle.  We are definitely in the business of catering to them," Rye added.

They cater to those visitors for good reason.  Tourism has become the biggest economic engine in the city.

The two festivals serve as a way to get people into town and spending money with local businesses.

Fran Harvey said, "People come and sit their lawn chairs out and enjoy these festivals.  And now, we find that they come back year after year."

That repeat visitor is key for a city who depends on Lake Martin to support their economy.

Don McClellan, the Executive Director of the Lake Martin Economic Development Alliance, said, "We have about 25% of the houses in Tallapoosa County are on or adjacent to the Lake.  But, it brings in over 50% of the tax revenues for Tallapoosa County."

Those tax dollars have kept the city afloat during some tough times.

McClellan said, "We lost a lot of jobs in the textile industry in Alexander City, almost 7,000 jobs.  We have now replaced about 2,500 of those jobs, so we are on our way back.  During this time, however, the tourism industry and the lake has taken up some of that slack."

And now, as lake season kicks into high gear, it's also high time to show people what all the city has to offer.  Economic development leaders say the lake not only provides a desirable quality of life but also a secret weapon when recruiting new industry here.

"We have sites to locate them.  We have incentives to give them, like everyone else does.  But everyone doesn't have Lake Martin," added McClellan.

Alexander City, however, is so much more than the lake. It offers a small town feel with a vacation lifestyle.

The thriving community and downtown are among the many things to be proud of for those who call Alex City home.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.


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