New athletics facility in the works at Oxford High School

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Ben Nunnally, The Anniston Star, Ala.
·3 min read
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May 4—OXFORD — Oxford High School's athletics facilities are set to receive a major revamp, the city Board of Education announced Monday night.

Last year the school system took out a $20 million bond to build facilities that have been planned since 2007, Superintendent Jeff Goodwin said at a joint meeting of the school board and City Council at the Board of Education offices. The 65,000-square-foot facility may be complete in about 18 months, said Tony Bolton, school board member.

"We're hoping to get this out to bid as soon as possible," said Eric Burrage, director of operations for the school system, while presenting architectural drawings to the board and council. "We're hoping to get this out by June or July, if everything goes right. There are a lot of little things that have to be done."

The new structures include:

— a large, indoor practice space fit for the football team (and others) to use on rainy days and in cold months

— a new, 4,500-square-foot weight room

— a renovated football field with turf instead of grass, and new city and school logos in the end zones and at center field, respectively

— a 90-seat classroom

— multipurpose meeting rooms, including one with a view of the football field, and offices for coaches

— dedicated practice space for wrestling teams

— a new concession stand and field house

The new buildings will be constructed at the south end of the high school, beside the football field, with the new main doors centered with the northern goal post.

Football coach Sam Adams said the new training building has several roll-up doors that will make transitions from weight training to work on the field much simpler. Right now travel between the two cuts into hour-long practices, he said. Meanwhile, the indoor field will allow for rain-0r-shine practice, and athletes won't need to trudge outside on freezing cold days.

"I want to get our student athletes the best experience they can possibly have," Adams said. "This facility is going to be like no other high school in the state."

Work will be underway on the field by May 27, the night of graduation, though school officials said the commencement ceremony will go forward. Burrage said the field should be complete between the 20-yard lines, though some of the logos and the end zones won't yet be ready. Graduates will instead take their walk around a giant, painted Oxford "O," and a traditional run to the end zones will still take place, but will be moved to the practice field.

City Council president Chris Spurlin said he had been impressed with the design and utility of the facilities, and was proud of the working relationship the city shares with its board of education. He saw the upgrades as another chance for Oxford to show the region the city's commitment to students, he said, be it through athletics or academic programs, citing student performance in robotics as an example.

Goodwin said after the meeting that construction costs are in a time of flux, but that the board was hopeful the bond issue would cover the full cost of the project.

He said that the facility had been on the board's mind since 2007, but for several years the school system's focus was on improving facilities at schools like DeArmanville and C.E. Hanna elementaries.

"It's been well worth the wait to have this jewel of a facility serve kids across the district," Goodwin said.

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.