With just a couple of things to check off the punch list for Phase 1 at Cowboy Stadium in Abilene, plans for Phase 2 were approved Monday night by the USD 435 Board of Education during the October monthly meeting.

Over the next couple of weeks, workers are scheduled to lay down the new eight-lane running track surface on top of the base that has been built. Some time after the football season comes to a close in that same time frame, a concrete pad will be poured between the two sets of visiting spectator bleachers and a small rework of the press boxes on the west side of the stadium should begin.

During Monday’s school board meeting, board members approved plans for the construction of locker rooms, concessions and public restrooms to the north of the existing Cowboy locker room currently in use. With the completion of the new entrance area and the soon to be built locker rooms and concessions facilities, the existing locker room will be torn down to make way for increased walkway from the new north entrance to the new bleachers. Walkways will also be built for visiting fans to be able to reach the visiting team bleachers from the same entrance gates.

Groundwork and construction should start soon and continue through the winter months on a two-story combined concessions, ticket booth, banquet space for special events and new Abilene locker rooms. Current plans call for most of the construction to be concluded by the start of track and field season with the entire project to be complete by summer 2021.

New locker room

The new Cowboy locker room portion will include lockers for 80 players, a separate coaches locker room and office area, 273 square feet for the athletic training facilities and a space of approximately 128 square feet for the Abilene cheer squad to have locker space and equipment storage during football season

The main locker room itself should cover an area of 1296 square feet not including the showers and restroom facilities.

Concessions

Separating the locker room from the new main entrance to the stadium will be a two-story building that combines concessions, ticket sales and Booster Club space for selling of school apparel and pre-game tailgating food. The ground level should also include storage areas and a large pantry area for the nearly 352 square foot concessions stand area. The second level is projected to have about 1000 square feet of meeting/banquet space that includes buffet facilities that will over look the new track and football field. This building is connected to the locker room facility.

Public restrooms

A planned 805 square foot building housing public restrooms is also to be built on the west side of the new entrance area to the north of the new west stadium bleachers. The entire new entrance area will be covered with a 2580 square foot pre-engineered canopy.

Visitors locker room

At the south end of the sports complex, the existing concessions building, Booster Club store and small ticket booth will be demolished to make way for new construction of the visiting team and game day officials’ locker rooms and equipment storage space.

The visitors will have approximately 600 square feet for lockers, showers and rest rooms facilities. About 200 square feet of space will be designed for game day officials to gather before games. This space will include lockers, seating and rest room facilities.

On the far south end of this new construction will be approximately 400 square feet of space for storage for the complex including space for an all-purpose utility vehicle and other equipment needed for the care and maintenance of the new turf football field. There is also space dedicated for the Abilene High School marching band to use for equipment needed for football field performances.

New plans call for the demolition of the existing restroom facility to make way for a new south entrance for vehicles as well as permanent parking space dedicated for emergency medical vehicles.

Future plans

Future plans have been discussed of enclosing the backsides of the visiting bleachers to be used for large track and field equipment storage like jumping pads for high jump and pole vault as well as hurdles. Space should also be available for storage of football field practice equipment.

The approved drawings also denote space for new flagpoles and a monument area at the south end of the complex near the new video board.

New long jump and triple jump areas as well as new pole-vaulting venues are under construction and will be completed soon. Shot put and discus throwing areas will be upgraded before track season begins.

Project costs

The total cost of Phase 2 is projected to be $2.184 million.

Board president Kyle Becker explained to the board members that Phase 1 costs came in a little higher than originally projected due to unforeseen issues with water drainage and other circumstances that came up during the installation of the field, track and bleachers. He noted that the project saved over $150,000 by not moving the track and the field to the east by 20 feet as was originally planned.

The total cost for Phase 1 came in at $2.659M compared to the $2.452M projection. When completed, Becker said the community should be really proud of the nearly $4.8M spent on the entire facility.

Board members expressed their pleasure with what they have seen so far and that they have all had positive comments from community members. Questions were asked about hosting regional and state events at the facility due to the field and track and the increased seating capacity in the stands.

School superintendent Greg Brown informed board members that plans were in place for the district to inform the Kansas State High School Activities Association of the districts desire to host those events.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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