It’s true that there’s no place like home, but having a Plan B — as in Bates Memorial Stadium — doesn’t hurt, either.
The New Brockton Gamecocks almost certainly will open their home season at Bates, the iconic former home of Enterprise High School football. New Brockton’s $1 million stadium improvement project — which will move the home side to what used to be the visitor’s side, add a new concession stand with a pavilion, new restrooms and new main entrance — is still under construction.
“Obviously, we knew that the chances of playing our early games here was slim,” New Brockton head football coach Zack Holmes said Monday.
The Gamecocks are scheduled to open the season at home against Cottonwood on Aug. 21.
“We’re going to open up at Bates Memorial for Cottonwood and depending on how things go,” Holmes said, adding he expects to finish the season in the new stadium. “There’s not just the construction, it’s weather and then with these stands having to hold people, all the inspections it will have to pass.”
Holmes said Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper and Parks & Recreation Director Billy Powell and his team have been “awesome.”
“They said we’ll do whatever we can to help,” the coach said. “We’re going to open up over there and we’ll come back as soon as we can to open our stadium.”
Mayor Cooper said it was easy to say yes.
“They’re our neighbors. Just as it was with Geneva when they were working on their stadium, we allowed them to use our facilities,” the mayor said. “We have a stadium that I would say is second to none at the high school.
“This stadium is used by the Recreation Center, it didn’t interfere with any program, so why not? Those kids deserve a good place to play and there is plenty of room over there. There’s good parking space, the restrooms, concession stand. We thought it’d be nice to share with them and have them use the stadium as long as they need.”
Holmes said Enterprise’s hospitality is much appreciated.
“Billy and those guys, we met with the mayor, they were all so gracious — ‘What can we do to help?’” Holmes said. “Another positive of us playing at Bates is Bates seats, like, 5,000.
“So social distancing is going to be easy for us. People can spread out on both sides. The social distancing things that need to happen are going to be easy for us over there.”
New Brockton’s stadium project got even bigger when lightning struck the stadium earlier this summer.
“It fried the PA system, the sprinkler system and blew out some lights on the poles,” New Brockton football coach Zack Holmes said Monday. “So in addition to a new stadium, we’re going to get a new sprinkler system, a new PA system. That’s all getting replaced at the same time.
“The Good Lord worked that out for us. So when we open up the stadium there’s going to be a lot of new stuff, which is really cool.”
Holmes couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the Gamecocks’ new home.
“The stadium’s going to be nice. They’ve spent the money to do it first-class,” the coach said. “We’ll have a big reserved section in the middle with a lot of chairback seats, which is going to be really nice.
“Now our visitor’s side is going to be nice. Tickets will be sold at one corner and we’ll have a new concession stand. Another new building is going to be a big bathroom facility. Where you come in is going to be a gate, like at the ticket booth. You’ll come in there, turn left and go to the new home side. It’s big-time, man.”
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