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Admirals ‘new’ stadium rests in Board, Commission hands

A young football coach and even younger football stadium were introduced to Farragut High School players and fans in 1978.

And while coach Eddie Courtney and Farragut Stadium/Bill Clabo Field will share a 30th anniversary this fall as fixtures on the FHS campus, the stadium may change dramatically — losing its trademark cement stands and pressbox.

New aluminum stands, which would roughly match the current cement stands capacity of 5,500, and a new, longer one-deck press box to feature heating/air conditioning are on the drawing board.

“We were the next school up, us and Powell, the next ones in line of all the [Knox County] schools to evaluate their stadiums,” said Courtney, FHS head coach since 1996.

Though FHS administrators said its possible the renovation could be complete by fall 2008, action is pending approval by Knox County Board of Education and Knox County Commission.

Courtney and school administrators point to code compliance, specifically as it relates to handicap access, and safety concerns as two main reasons for change.

Michael Reynolds, FHS principal, said other completion time factors involved how soon bids could be let to hire architectural and construction firms. “There’s a lot of things pending,” he said. “We would like to see this thing done right. I would rather be cautious and do it right.”

Inspection of the concrete stands to determine their long-term safety is a vital first step in the process, Reynolds added.

With bids still pending, Reynolds said estimated cost of the project was unknown.

Dwayne Simmons, FHS athletics director/assistant principal, said County funds would cover cost of the stands and pressbox.

Courtney said such measures as “soil sampling” and “surveys” are ongoing.

“We can’t start demolition unless we’re guaranteed that we’re going to have a stadium there by the end of July,” the coach added.

In case demolition/construction were to begin during spring sports season, fans seating would shift to the “visitors” stands on the south side, which will be left intact. “That seats about 1,200,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the new aluminum stands, as currently proposed, would go “approximately from the 10 to the 10 [yard line].” The current concrete stands extend roughly to the 20-yard lines.

To have twin sections separated by a walkway as with the concrete stands, the new walkway “will be almost twice as wide because of the handicap accessibility and a place for wheelchairs,” Courtney said. “And they’ll be two entrances instead of one in the middle [behind the bleachers].”

Why aluminum? Courtney said aluminum was “more economical” than concrete. “That’s kinda the trend now with stadiums,” he added.

As for the new pressbox, “It will be a lot longer,” Courtney said. “It will be one level [enclosed], the same inside dimensions as we have [currently] two-level. On top, the second level, it will be open.”

Elsewhere, “We’re going to have to address some [code] issues in the restroom,” Courtney said.

Along those lines, Simmons said, “We’re looking at getting a new concession stand and new restroom facilities,” adding those current facilities could remain with new bleachers.

However, “we don’t want them so we’re trying to determine how we’re going to get new,” Simmons said.

Although County would, at best, only provide partial funding for a new concession stand and new bathrooms, Simmons added, “We want it all done at the same time.”

Courtney said he was hoping the new stands/pressbox would be in place by July.

“We’ve gotten almost 30 years out of that stadium now,” Courtney said. “That stadium was built with the joint effort of the booster club.”

Having first arrived at FHS as a young coach in 1978 — the same year the current Farragut Stadium opened — Courtney said he has a sentimental affection for the original stadium.

“I like the concrete design and everything,” he said. “But we’ve got to move on, it’s got to get within codes.”


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