ANDALUSIA, Ala. (WSFA) - The Andalusia High School football stadium and fine arts center are nearly complete, in time for the 100th football season at the school.
Head football coach Trent Taylor couldn’t be more pleased.
“It’s very nice," said Taylor.
His players started summer training Tuesday on the very field they hope to score a few victories this fall.
“You know painting a practice field and getting ready and so there’s a lot of coaches out there that will certainly understand how nice it is not have to do that," said Taylor.
A new three-story press box, an expansive plaza, refurbished seats and to keep history alive, school and city leaders kept the ‘bones’ of what used to be home plate cheering section of the baseball field, a field with a Willie Mays connection so long ago. Mays was a former major league baseball player. The stadium renovations alone cost more than $6 million.
“We wanted to maintain that as a tip of the hat to the heritage of this place," said Andalusia mayor Earl Johnson.
Next door another $6 million or so foot the bill for a much-improved school auditorium, the same stage the mayor himself belted out a song or two in high school in 1965.
”Whatever I am, I got in this community. I feel like I owe it back," said Johnson.
Construction started on both projects more than a year ago and Johnson admitted some may think they’re over the top, but he makes no apologies.
“You’d be surprised how many comments we get from people from all over the country that come through here and say, ‘Wow, this is a nice community,’" said Johnson.
It took 41 18-wheelers to bring in the gravel needed to serve the bed under the new turn, and sprinkled across the field are 61 tons of rubber pellets. The stadium and the fine arts center are good as new, and showtime has almost arrived.
A big part of the $13 million project is being paid for through a half-cent sales the city passed four years and a $7 million bond issue the school district is paying on a monthly installment.
Mayor Johnson estimates they have already paid off about 65 percent of the entire construction cost.