A lot of memories have been made over the past six decades at Columbia’s Memorial Stadium.
From now on, those high school sports memories will be made on new turf, in front of new bleachers, a new scoreboard, new press box and a new atmosphere.
Built in 1960, the Richland 1 stadium was razed about two weeks ago to make way for a completely upgraded facility to host district football, soccer and lacrosse events.
The new stands will hold around 5,000 fans, an increase of about 350 over the old bleachers.
The stadium will be rebuilt in time for this fall’s high school football season.
In the meantime, lacrosse and soccer games that normally would be played at Memorial are being relocated to other venues.
The $6.7 million Memorial Stadium upgrade is part of nearly $40 million in athletics projects that have rolled out across the school district since 2015. They include facility upgrades at most high schools and a new, $10.8 million district stadium opening this fall at Keenan High School.
After construction, all the district’s stadiums – Memorial, Keenan, Bolden and Lower Richland – will have similar features, including 5,000-seat capacity, artificial turf, video scoreboards and updated restrooms, press boxes and fencing.
The new Keenan stadium will be shared for the first time by Keenan and Eau Claire high schools.
Columbia High no longer will play home games at Memorial, moving now to Bolden Stadium. C.A. Johnson High will continue to play home games at Bolden.
A.C. Flora and Dreher high schools will continue to share Memorial as their home stadium.
Dreher, meanwhile, continues to be caught in controversy over plans to add a multi-use field, bleachers, lights and new tennis courts to its campus.
Amid ongoing outcry from residents of the surrounding Heathwood and Melrose Heights neighborhoods, Dreher was denied this week – for the third time – a request to the Columbia Planning Commission to rezone its campus to make way for the athletic facilities.
That question will once again move to City Council to approve or deny the rezoning.