City and school officials, coaches and fans gather for the groundbreaking for the J. Fred Johnson Stadium renovation. Photo by Ned Jilton II
KINGSPORT — City, school system and community members Wednesday celebrated the already underway renovation and expansion of J. Fred Johnson Stadium at Dobyns-Bennett High School.
The noon groundbreaking came on a sunny but windy wintry day a few weeks after work began on the project, including Monday’s demolition of the old press box to make way for an upper deck and new press box for the more than 70-year-old structure.
"Fifteen months ago, renovating this stadium was not on our radar," Mayor Dennis Phillips said of the project not to exceed $4.59 million and set to be completed by Nov. 7, 2014.
"When the public train comes rolling down the track, don’t stand in front of it," Phillips said of public support for the project.
"This is something the public stood behind and wanted to happen," Phillips said. "Nothing speaks higher of a community than its education system."
The stadium project calls for the addition of 1,500 seats to the grandstand, a new two-story press box, new restrooms and areas for concessions, improved handicapped accessibility, wider aisles with handrails, an elevator and covered concourses.
"It’s another milestone in the rich history" of J. Fred Johnson stadium, the community and the school system, Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said.
For an expanded version of this article, see Thursday’s print edition or enhanced electronic edition of the Kingsport Times-News.