Alamo Stadium nears completion

$35 million bond-funded facelift on time, on budget

The new press box is still under construction and was designed to fit the existing architecture.
The new press box is still under construction and was designed to fit the existing architecture.

Construction crews are making progress on the renovation of San Antonio ISD's  Alamo Stadium.

The $35 million 2010 bond-funded facelift is the first major renovation for the stadium since it was opened in 1940.

The project was the source of much public debate as citizens wrangled with the district over every aspect, hoping to preserve the facility lovingly referred to as "The Rock Pile."

"There were a lot of people concerned (that) it's going to be looking very different than it was and it's not actually," said Kamal El Habr, associate superintendent for Facility Services. "When they come look at it they will feel that we've done a good job for them."

Once the source of complaints by student athletes, the 74-year-old stadium is being transformed into a state-of-the-art sports complex.

"They complained about the quality, 'How come we don't have facilities like other districts?' but I think this is going to make it up for them," El Habr said. "We used to have a lot of problems with water, sewer, the lighting, electrical, we fixed all of that."

Student athletes will enjoy new locker room facilities and a new, wider playing surface expanded to fit a pro-sized soccer field.

"We couldn't play (soccer) before because the curvature of the field," El Habr said. "We've taken that away now and our soccer students are going to be as happy as our football students."

The new turf was installed in the past two weeks and Alamo Stadium is only the second sports complex in the country to have the new type of artificial turf that is ideal for both soccer and football.

Another big upgrade is a new digital scoreboard by Daktronics that was installed Tuesday. The display is 44 feet wide by 24 feet tall and can be used to play full screen replays and broadcast live images of the game and fans in the stands.

Students studying communications will also get to operate the cameras and other portions of the high-tech scoreboard that is believed to be the largest in the state.

"They're going to learn how to take video, walk around, do playbacks, learn about the equipment and hopefully they'll be doing what you do in the future," El Habr said. "When we fire it up, everybody will be impressed."

The stadium did lose some seating due to the wider field, but it will have more access and seats for the disabled, including ramps and an elevator.

"We didn't have accessibility in the whole stadium, so we made the restrooms accessible ... and the seats are accessible for the handicapped," El Habr said.

The press box is still under construction and the new track needs to be installed, but the project remains on budget and on time and should be finished this July.

"They will start practicing in August and they will be ready to play here very soon," El Habr said. "I can't wait to stand here and see the kids coming in and see the looks on their faces, that's what it's all about."

The first game scheduled for the new stadium will be a football game between Lanier and Central Catholic High School on Aug. 28.


Images: Alamo Stadium

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