Officials from Fort Hood, including Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr.; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District; C.H. Guernsey and Co. and RMA Land Construction Inc. give a ceremonial turning of earth Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hood Stadium.;
By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — The new Hood Stadium is expected to be finished by September 2012, 16 months after ceremonial shovelfuls of earth flew at the site.

Fort Hood, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contracting officials led a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday morning, marking the start of a project to replace Hood Stadium after it was demolished last summer to make room for the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The new Hood Stadium complex is expected to cost $13.8 million, said Nick Johnsen, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.

The stadium’s new location is southwest of the Clear Creek Main Exchange and southeast of Smith Middle School. U.S. Highway 190 is just to the south of the site.

Long-term plans call for public access to the stadium from U.S. 190, but a FMWR spokesman said Wednesday that is “extremely long-term now.”

When Hood Stadium, also known as Prichard Field, is completed, those without military identification cards or post access decals on their vehicles will be required to enter Fort Hood through the Main Gate and drive to the stadium. They will get to the stadium via a new road that will be built between the Clear Creek Commissary and Smith Middle School, according to information from FMWR.

When entrance to the facility is eventually available from U.S. 190, visitors will only be able to access Hood Stadium, not Fort Hood.

Public access is a topic of interest because Hood Stadium is typically home to several large, public events like Freedom Fest. Plans call for Freedom Fest to be at Sadowski Field this July, said Johnny Pelton, chief of FMWR’s Recreation Division.

Sadowski has already hosted large events such as the World Wrestling Entertainment Tribute to the Troops on Dec. 11 and Rock the Hood on Nov. 6.

Fort Hood and Killeen Independent School District officials have also discussed a Hood Stadium partnership in which Killeen-area schools use the facility for sporting events. The new stadium will have a regulation football and soccer field, four softball fields, a University Interscholastic League eight-lane track, press box, concession stands and locker rooms.

The stadium will also feature a permanent stage, 10-foot-wide bike path and parking for 1,000 vehicles.

The former Hood Stadium, which was built in 1951, had bleacher seating for 5,000 people. The new facility is set to have seating for 5,500. Additionally, there is room on the field for 5,000 to 10,000 people, Pelton said. Freedom Fest regularly draws crowds of about 100,000 every July.

Construction shouldn’t affect existing traffic, Pelton said. Crews are building new roadways near Smith Middle School and extending an existing dead end street by the Community Events Center.

The Comanche Road entrance off Tank Destroyer Boulevard will be widened to ease traffic flow to and from the stadium, according to information from FMWR.

Construction will be supervised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. C.H. Guernsey and Co. from Oklahoma City is the project’s architect, and RMA Land Construction Inc. from Anaheim, Calif., was awarded the design/build contract.

For more on this story, including the history of the Hood Stadium and Darnall projects, read next week’s Fort Hood Herald.