LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - One of the oldest football stadiums in Lake Charles is finally getting renovated.
On Tuesday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Lake Charles Boston High School Cougar Stadium to officially kick off the revitalization project.
Ward 3 Recreation members were joined by Mayor Randy Roach, city council members along with State Rep. Chuck Kleckley and Sen. Ronnie Johns, to break ground at Cougar Stadium.
"I grew up in this stadium," said Sally Garber Fenet, the Ward 3 Recreation board president.
Fenet is a longtime Lake Charles resident. She remembers many childhood memories in what was originally called "Killen Field", named after Lake Charles High School football coach Robert Killen.
"Even in elementary school, we were watching the Lake Charles High Wildcats play football out here," she said.
After Lake Charles High School and W.O. Boston High School merged, the stadium became Lake Charles Boston Cougar Stadium.
"The last high school to use it was Lake Charles Boston and that's why, as of today, it's still called Lake Charles Boston Cougar Stadium. So it goes back many years, many, many years. From my understanding, even McNeese State University played some of their original games here," explained the Ward 3 Recreation Director Kip Texada.
Currently, Cougar Stadium is used by Hamilton Christian and Saint Louis High schools and Oak Park Middle School for home football games and track meets. Private schools must pay a fee to use the stadium, while it remains free for public schools.
The Lake Charles Ward 3 Recreation District purchased the stadium two years ago because the district wanted its own facility for the city's recreational programs, like the adult football league and track teams. Ward 3 Recreation acquired the stadium with the intent to bring it back to life.
"The bleachers are in really good condition, but as you can see, the beams underneath need the repair and that's what we're really and truly going to focus in on," said Texada.
The $1.2 million project will be entirely funded through the state's capital outlay budget.
Other renovations include resurfacing the track and renovations of the concession stands and bathrooms. Adequate handicap ramps will also be installed in the bleachers.
The project is expected to take six to eight months to complete. The first phase is resurfacing the track, which Ward 3 hopes to complete in time for the upcoming track season.
"That's the great thing. It's that we know in probably in about six to eight months, for sure the track (will be done). We've been talking about that we'll actually be able to unveil that to the community, as well as just the bleacher work." So they'll be able to walk out and see a difference," Texada said.
Since Ward 3 Recreation owns the stadium, it will be open to any resident who lives in the district.
"There's a lot of history out here for this community and I think what we're doing here for Ward 3 is we're going to make the stadium better," said former Lake Charles Boston Principal and Ward 3 Recreation board member Solomon Cannon.
Even though the stadium may look different next year, its name will stay the same.