Published Fri, Sep 2, 2011 11:28 am Dateline
Updated Fri, Sep 2, 2011 11:42 am
Principal Mike Meek compares tonight's re-opening of the Athens High School football stadium with the popular movie "Field of Dreams" and it's most memorable quote, 'If you build it, they will come."
"I call it the field of dreams," says Meek. "It took a community to build this. You build it and they will come."
Nearly a year ago, the stadium was destroyed during a tornado that hit The Plains.
"I'm amazed that it was able to be pulled off in less than one year," said Meek.
Meek says the game against Dawson Bryant Coal Grove starts at 7:30 p.m. But, he says those who want to come to the game better get there early to get a good seat.
"We're estimating a very, very large crowd, somewhere between four to five thousand people," says Meek. He says many people want to see the new stadium and that the football team is really good this year.
The Athens High School Bulldogs only played one game on their home field last year before the tornado hit. They played the rest of their home games at Ohio University's Peden Stadium. Meek says the players are ready to feel their own turf under their feet.
"I think they're pretty excited. They can't wait to get on their new home field," says Meek.
Meek says it cost about $3 million to rebuild the entire stadium and refurbish the home side bleachers.
It was paid for with insurance money and money donated by community members.
"The community's support was overwhelming. It was done right. The community's support is what made this happen," said Meek.
The stadium will also have a new name.
It was previously called R. Basil Rutter Field. It is now called Scott Riggs and Family Stadium R. Basil Rutter Field.
Meek says Scott Riggs donated $300,000 to the renovation project.
All the large donors are going to be recognized before the game and Meek says a video telling the story of the stadium project will be shown.
He says he put a lot of hard work and energy into the project, but he doesn't think he'll tear up or get emotional at tonight's game.
"I'm too tired," said Meek. "It's been a lot of time and a lot of hours. There's a lot of people who are taking a deep breath and saying 'We got it done."