Wharton school board members jumped into ATVs for a ride around the site of former Tiger Stadium during a special meeting on June 11.

Building structures have been constructed, including restrooms, the concession stand and the ticket booth. Dirt work has been completed for the football field. Both the football field area and the track have been set out with lime stabilization. 

Part of the tour included the drainage system for the field. With a great amount of rain in the preceding week, plenty of water had flowed in the retention pond outside the stadium.

The anticipated timeline for the stadium includes start dates of paving the asphalt layer of the track on Sunday, June 16, construction of home grandstands on Friday, July 5 and visitors grandstands on Tuesday, July 9, installation of the track and football field’s synthetic surfaces on Thursday, July 18. 

Construction Project Manager Mike Lanier said that if everything goes according to schedule, completion will be on Friday, Aug. 9. However, he said that is dependent upon the weather. With the Wharton Tigers scheduled to play their home opener on Friday, Sept. 6 against West Columbia, a few weeks were allowed in case of construction delays or weather interference.

“The timetable gives a buffer for weather. You’ve got to figure that in,” Lanier said. “We’ve lost four days to weather so far.”

For example, excavation of the retention pond, which is 10 to 15 feet deep, must be completed after water from last week’s storms dries out. 

He said that with so many things to be done, much has to go right to stay on track. 

Nonetheless, he said, “I anticipate we’ll be ready for the first official games.”

Naming of stadium

The stadium will have a new name announced during the next regular school board meeting on Tuesday, June 25. Community members and Tigers fans had the opportunity to enter nominations for naming until June 8. Two longtime coaches were nominated, Eddie Joseph and Greg Baines, while others suggested that it remain Tiger Stadium. Joseph, who passed away in March at age 86, coached Wharton football from 1968 to 1981. He was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 1983 and Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 1994. 

Baines, who died in 2014, coached Wharton youth football and basketball, initiated after-school programs, founded the Just Do It Now faith-based recovery center and coordinated scholarship programs. He has a street named after him in the city.

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