By George Watson
A-J MEDIA SPORTS EDITOR
The Allen Independent School District recently spent more than $60 million on a new football stadium for a district with one high school.
The Lubbock ISD is putting the finishing touches on an $18 million renovation to 52-year-old Lowrey Field that Athletic Director Mark Ball believes, when it comes to the press box, locker rooms, playing surface and scoreboard, gives student-athletes a facility on par with the one in Allen.
On Tuesday, Aug. 20, LISD unveiled some of the renovations for what will henceforth be called Lowrey Field at PlainsCapital Park after a generous donation from PlainsCapital Bank. Included in the renovations — approved as part of the $198 million bond package voters passed in 2010 — are new press box and fieldhouse facilities and new concession stands and restrooms.
Additionally, fans will notice some big changes as well. The new restroom and concession stand facilities debuted last year while the rest remained under construction. But this season will feature better parking, which has caused problems in the past for fans getting into and out of Lowrey Field, as well as increased lighting and video surveillance for security purposes.
The stands have also been repainted and new bleacher seating installed. Plus the fencing surrounding both the facility as a whole and separating the fans from the playing surface has been replaced. Seating capacity remains at 8,500.
“The parking had challenges, the lighting, the security concerns, the bottleneck at the concession stands — all that has been addressed with this project,” said Laura Vinson, co-chair of the 2020 Committee charged with improving LISD facilities across the board.
“All of this has come together to make this a welcoming, well-functioning venue for students. Also, the venue is now better suited to be considered and chosen for playoff games for other regional districts. This will be an economic boost for Lubbock from those districts coming to Lubbock to attend those games.”
Paired with the already--existing video scoreboard, donated by PlainsCapital Bank as part of the $3 million naming-rights agreement, and an artificial turf playing surface, Ball feels LISD now has one of the finest facilities in the state.
“This is now my 35th year (in athletics) and these opportunities don’t come along very often, so this is a big moment for me,” Ball said. “I think there are four areas that are really important. I can honestly say that our press box is the best, our playing surface is the best, our fieldhouse is the best and our scoreboard is the best. I would compare those with anybody in the state of Texas, including Allen.”
Though some construction is still ongoing at the football field, such as laying down sod around the buildings and putting finishing touches on the locker rooms and press box, LISD Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr. said the facility will be fully functional and complete by the time Monterey and Coronado hit the field for the season opener on Thursday, Aug. 29.
“It’s going to be something great for our community and for our school district,” Robertson said. “This facility’s been a great partnership between PlainsCaptial Bank, the Lubbock Independent School District, our community and the voters who have been so gracious. The thing about this facility is it’s going to be so great for our kids. Anything we do in public schools in terms of facilities or education, whatever that is, is about our kids in the classroom or on the field.
Built in 1961 at a cost of $575,000, Lowrey Field was named after former LISD teacher and athletic business manager E.J. “Pinky” Lowrey. But no major renovation had been done to the place where Coronado, Monterey, Lubbock High and Estacado hold their varsity football games since its construction.
So Ball, the 2020 Committee and several LISD administrators visited several school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to tour their football stadiums and facilities for ideas.
Among the fields visited were Mansfield, Mesquite, Plano, Denton and Birdville. All of those with the exception of Birdville have at least three schools that play varsity football.
The fieldhouse at the north end of the stadium is all new with four separate locker rooms that can be converted into two larger locker rooms thanks to an overhead door between them. Having four locker rooms will help facilitate things when LISD holds Friday-night doubleheaders or more than one playoff game in a day.
Also in the fieldhouse are four separate coaches dressing rooms, four training rooms, separate shower and bathroom facilities and an officials dressing room.
The press box is now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act now that it can be accessed by an elevator. The press box also has grown to three levels, including the ground level.
The second level hosts a 1,323-square-foot community room and two suites, one of which belongs to PlainsCapital Bank and the other for special groups. The rest of the space is open air with several tables and chairs that line the length of the room between the suites at each end. That will be used by LISD administrators, dignitaries and guests, and will also host the weekly LISD media luncheons that for the last few years have been held at Jones AT&T Stadium.
The third level is the working level that will house media and scouts, home and visitor coaches, home and visitor radio crews, the public address and video scoreboard controls, LISD TV and an outdoor camera deck.
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[Article Reposted from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal]