Bond issue affects recreation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 24, 2008

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series on the upcoming bond issue.

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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There is a lot of history inside Ralph “Shug” Jordan Memorial Stadium.

That history is now turning into one of the city’s biggest money pits.

The facility has seen a heavy amount of use in its nearly 61-year existence, and allocations in the proposed $12.3 million bond issue would give the stadium a much-needed facelift.

“Between the Concordia College football team and the high school teams, this place gets a lot of use,” Parks and Recreation Director Elton Reece said.

The stadium is a year-round facility for sporting and social gatherings alike. Youth Impact will be held there in May, an event scheduled to include between 3,000 to 5,000 children.

The recreation department will receive nearly $1.3 million – the third-highest amount of funding under the proposed bond issue – if it is approved by voters on Feb. 26.

Among the many problems inside the stadium are outdated, odorous bathroom facilities; a track with fraying edges, a cramped press box and leaky terra cotta plumbing pipes.

It is scheduled for a major renovation, covering everything from seating to lighting to concession stands. There is also a need for expanded dressing rooms, which were originally built to hold 40 players.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. has been the biggest cheerleader for the bond. During various speaking engagements over the past several months, he has promoted it as a way to make improvements in every aspect of the city.

“This is a good economic development tool, especially when you consider the amount we’re putting into recreation,” Perkins said at a recent Rotary meeting. “That includes the stadium.”

The Concordia College football team will begin its fourth season of play this fall. The seven scheduled home games would be the most in the brief history of the program.

“If this does go through, it can bring a lot of different football teams here,” Concordia coach Shepherd Skanes said. “It’ll feel like we’re playing in a college stadium and not a neutral stadium. That’s the reason we only played two games here last year. This will help us to be in compliance with other NAIA schools.”