Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dennis Coe wants all the Dothan High athletic teams possible to have an on-campus home, at least for practices.
Soon, that mission could be reality.
Just a few months after the Dothan City School Board approved a new athletic field house – giving Dothan High two such on-campus buildings – work is moving to a possible groundbreaking in the next couple of months.
“We are in design mode,” Coe said. “It is an extensive process with the department of construction management.
“We will construct a new boys athletic complex and renovate the existing field house and convert that into a girls athletic complex.”
The new facility, which will be 11,000-square feet, will be built on the back end of a current parking lot and on the current band field across the street from the existing field house. Behind the new field house will be a new 70-yard turf field for the football team to practice on and to match artificial turf installed at Rip Hewes Stadium and in other high school stadiums that have gone to turf fields.
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The band practice field, meanwhile, will shift from the east to the south side of the Fine Arts building where the band room is located. The new location is closer to the band room.
“The new athletic facility will have dressing areas for football, baseball, (boys) soccer, (boys) track and (boys) tennis,” Coe said. “In the girls facility, there will be dressing rooms for softball, soccer, tennis, track for our female athletes. There will also be a training room in each location and weight rooms in each location plus coaches offices.”
Dothan head football coach Jed Kennedy said a third weight room would be added in the gym for indoor sports of basketball and wrestling.
“We will have a weight room in the back of the gym, which will have 10 racks,” Kennedy said. “There will be 24 racks in the new facility. There will still be 14 racks in the old facility. So there will be a lot of places for a lot of athletes to be developed on our campus.”
The new athletic building will have also have restroom and concessions for baseball and softball fans on the north side, located just a few feet from fields for those sports. Currently fans have to go up beyond the left field fence to the Fine Arts building for both.
The wrestling team, which has practiced in the Commons area in the main academic building the last two years, will now move back to the upper room in the gym where it was previously before weights were moved into that room.
Coe said the school board approved an $8 million bond for the project to build the new athletic facility.
“The time line is we are looking at putting the bids out in September and looking at opening them up in October and having groundbreaking in November,” Coe said.
“If we can start construction in October-November, it would be great to have it by the following August for football season.”
The project, which comes after renovations to the gym last year, is designed to help all sports.
“Our goal is to try to touch as many sports as possible,” Coe said. “We want to do what we can to make improvements, especially for soccer, track and tennis.”
With the new turf practice field for football, the existing football practice field will be used for soccer practices, which currently are held off campus at the Westgate Soccer Complex. Track and field will continue to use the track around that practice field.
Coe said new tennis courts are also in the plans. Those would be built behind the band field in the back of the campus.
“If budgets hold up, we would like to do four tennis courts,” Coe said.
Coe said getting as many sports on-campus practice fields was important.
“Our goal is to get them to practice on site and not have to leave every time,” Coe said.
Overall, the new building along with the recent renovations to the gym are designed to put the Class 7A Wolves programs among the elite in the state, said Coe.
“This is another step in our effort to provide quality Class 7A facilities for all our athletic teams and for our band,” Coe said.
Kennedy said the new facility is certainly a step in that right direction.
“There is nothing but a huge thank you and kudos to Dr. Coe and his vision,” Kennedy said. “If we are going to be a 7A school and build this thing into success in all of our programs, it starts with having this facility.”