Mobile high school stadium construction hits snag

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Students at two schools where new football stadiums are under construction will have to wait a little longer than planned to watch games under the Friday night lights.

The Mobile County Public School System has four stadiums under construction and had hoped to open fields at LeFlore and Vigor high schools in August. But school system spokeswoman Rena Philips told FOX10 News that a variety of obstacles are causing a delay in that timeline. For instance, she said, workers have had difficulty getting aluminum transported to the construction sites.

“It’s like everything else in the country. … And so yes, we have had delays with some truck drivers and some materials and some weather delays,” she said.

Still, Philips added, officials hope to open the new stadiums at both schools before the end of the season. Construction also is under way at Davidson and B.C. Rain high schools. The school system is paying the roughly $20 million cost with money the state has borrowed and dedicated for school construction projects.

Philips said the school system also plans to build new stadiums for Murphy and Williamson high schools, although she added that officials have not worked out the details, such as where they would be located and when construction would start.

“We started on the easiest ones to build, which were site prep and having the location all that,” she said. “So that’s why we started with LeFlore and Vigor, and then we’ll follow it up soon after with Davidson and B.C. Rain.”

Whenever LeFlore winds up kicking off at its on-campus home, principal Antonio Williams said, the entire community is thrilled.

“The entire Rattler community, our alumni base, community members, our faculty, staff, students are all super excited about having their own stadium,” he said.

Williams said it is about more than pride. Instead of paying to rent another stadium, he said, playing games on campus will generate revenue.

“Also think it’s a benefit, financially, to have our own stadium – having an opportunity to control parking, concessions ticket sales,” he said. “That’s gonna bring a lot more revenue for our school, for our football program and for athletics, overall.”

Added Philips: “It’s an equity issue for us because these are schools that don’t have their own stadium.”

Williams said he does not have a precise estimate of how much money the school might make, but he added that it will run thousands of dollars. In addition to ticket sales, he said he anticipates other revenue streams, such as selling sponsorships.

Traditionally, schools without home stadiums played their football games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. But the school system severed ties with Ladd last year after a shooting that occurred at a game between Williamson and Vigor high schools.

After that, the school system juggled schedules, playing some games on Saturdays. Schools without stadiums played “home” games at other stadiums when the home schools were on the road.

Philips says it will be more of the same for schedule-makers when the season kicks off in August.

Sophomore Ashton Yates and junior Bryant Pleasant, who both play linebacker for LeFlore, said they never really felt like they had a true home field advantage.

“We play, like, B.C. Rain and it just feel like – it’s not home,” Yates said. “It’s not just us.”

Added Pleasant: “Hey – ain’t no place like home.”

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