Home stands replacement begins at Drake Stadium

Work began on the replacement of the home stands at Newnan High School’s Drake stadium over the 2011 Thanksgiving Break. Photo/Special.

With the Newnan High School Cougars 2011 season coming to a close on November 18, work began over the school system’s Thanksgiving break to replace the visitor’s side stands at Drake stadium on the Newnan High campus.

Workers with general contractor Torrance Construction began removing aluminum seating and railings on the 45-year-old home-side stadium on Monday, and erecting silt fencing and barriers. Demolition on the facility will take about two weeks. Construction of a new home-side stand will take place over the next five months, according to Coweta County School System spokesman Dean Jackson.

The project is scheduled to be finished before the high school’s May 25 graduation, which will allow 2012 commencement ceremonies to go forward in their traditional setting in Drake stadium.

Replacement of the home-side stands was approved by the Coweta County Board of Education last spring, after engineering reviews in early 2011 showed structural deterioration in the aging facility. Repairs of the structure in May allowed the high school to use the stands through the end of the 2011 football season.

Jackson said the new stands will provide more seating in Drake stadium. The current stadium seats about 4,300 people in all, according to Georgia High School Association rules of estimating seating capacity. The new home stands will be slightly taller, and longer, stretching to both end zones of the school’s football fields. In all, the new home stand – coupled with existing visitor’s side seating – will accommodate slightly over 6,000 fans, which is required for home-hosting of football playoffs.

The new facility will also have more handicapped seating and restroom facilities, and will replace the current concession stands, press box and dressing facilities.

Newnan High School does not expect construction to interfere with springs sporting events. Alternate fields on the Newnan High School campus may need to be used in some cases until construction is completed later in the spring.

Jackson said Newnan High School’s Drake stadium is named after Walter Homer Drake, Sr., who served as the Newnan City Schools Superintendent for 23 years, until his death in 1964. Drake’s successor was Newnan High School principal O.P. Evans, who served as Newnan City Schools Superintendent from 1964 until 1969. Drake and Evans, working with Coweta County School officials, set the groundwork for the merger of the two school systems in 1969.

During his tenure, Drake oversaw growth in Newnan City Schools’ faculty, educational programs, and facilities, including construction of the new Newnan High in 1952 as well as Central High School, Ruth Hill, Fairmount, Elm Street and Atkinson elementary schools. Drake’s family was present when the stadium was dedicated in his memory on September 2, 1966.