Renovated Durham stadium reopens

DURHAM Hundreds attended the official grand opening of the stadium, despite the water main break on Stadium Drive. Due to the problem, the entrance for the event had to be moved to the Roxboro Olympic Drive entrance.

The problem did not delay the ceremony from starting on time at 6 p.m.

The free festivities included a plaque dedication by the Memorial Stadium Authority, performances from the Durham Striders, Durham Firebirds and Durham Public Schools' high school cheerleaders and bands from Hillside and Southern high schools.

"Very exciting I came to see my grandson play, he's with the Firebirds, and I'm glad they applauded the whole Durham system," Durham resident Gemma Harris said.

"I think it's priceless and I think it's critical," Tri-County Panthers Coach Rob Fuller said. "I think any time we take out to invest in our infrastructure for our kids and for our community it only adds value to it."

Historically the stadium has been used by the Shaw University Bears and Durham's Northern High School, but county officials hope the upgrades will attract more events.

The county began renovating the 50-year-old location in March 2009 and invested $8.2 million to complete extensive upgrades to the facility.

Upgrades included the installation of an artificial turf football and soccer field, an eight-lane track, a new scoreboard, an expanded press box with elevator access, renovated locker rooms, concessions and public restrooms, and additional restroom facilities and concessions on the south side.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seating improvements have been made throughout the grandstands, as well as new handicapped parking areas on north and south sides. The stands now seat roughly 10,000.

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