The one-time opportunity to play a big-time football game in the diminutive confines of Ashley Booth Field was fine and all for Myrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson.
Still, he’ll be the first to say that his team is anxious to get back on its familiar home digs at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
“We have a big game here at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, our guys are excited about that,” said the Seahawks’ head man.
Aside from another opportunity to earn its first win of the season, Thursday will mark Myrtle Beach’s return to the familiar confines of Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium when it hosts West Florence for a prime-time gridiron contest.
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Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and it will be the first time public eyes have been able to view the facility since work began in January.
The nearly $6 million in upgrades to the venue includes a new press box, scoreboard and locker room, along with new surfaces for its track and FieldTurf used for football and soccer contests. A new entrance area also was constructed, allowing for a more manageable game-day experience for patrons and security personnel.
“Previously, we had a tent that everyone entering would come through, but [it] caused a bit of congestion once people entered the stadium,” said former Myrtle Beach assistant city manager Ron Andrews, who played a key role in the project. “By doing this, it should help relieve some of that crowd and also create a more navigable way to either the home stands or the ones across the way.”
Andrews said crews devoted a lot of time to bleachers on the home side of the stadium, which have been part of the facility since its opening in 1968.
I think we’ll be OK. There’s a bit to do, but there will be enough done for us to get a temporary (certificate of occupancy). We’ll play the game Aug. 31, then use the next few weeks after that to tie up any loose ends.
Ron Andrews, former Myrtle Beach asssistant city manager
“We did an extensive amount of work to these 40-something year-old concrete and steel bleachers. We put them back in good condition,” he said. “We hired a consultant maybe two years ago to come in and evaluate the bleachers. To be honest, I was expecting him to tell me we needed to replace them.
“But he told me they’re not really in that bad of shape. So he handed us a repair plan that we do as a maintenance project, allowing this set of bleachers to serve for another number of years.”
Crews also installed handrails in each aisle, allowing for easier access up and down the bleachers.
“Fans have been asking a long time for handrails. The aisles were not wide enough before, so we couldn’t put the handrails in,” Andrews said. “But with this project, we widened the aisles and were able to get them in.”
Those overseeing the project also had the future in mind, as the press box overlooking Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium will stand independently from the bleachers.
“We brought that in so that if we ever in the future were to need to replace the bleachers, we can do so without hurting the press box,” Andrews said. “Then (crews) can come back with the typical aluminum seating you will see elsewhere.”
The project isn’t expected to be fully completed by kickoff on Thursday as Andrews noted “a few small details are left to be done” before deeming it as a finished work.
“I think we’ll be OK,” he said. “There’s a bit to do, but there will be enough done for us to get a temporary (certificate of occupancy). We’ll play the game Aug. 31, then use the next few weeks after that to tie up any loose ends.”