Grambling is moving forward with plans for a $1.8 million upgrade that includes new field turf, a new scoreboard and new signage for sponsorship opportunities. The future changes were addressed at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
The facelift is needed for Robinson Stadium, which opened in 1983. The 19,600-seat stadium served Grambling well for the better part of the last four decades, but the scoreboard is outdated and the field is plagued with drainage issues.
“The game day experience will be something we’ve never had at Grambling,” Grambling athletic director Paul Bryant said.
Austin, Texas-based Hellas Construction will handle the new turf. Nevco will install the new scoreboard. Hellas has installed turf at major venues like AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The upgrades are being made possible via a partnership with Origin Bank and Coca-Cola, and the project will be funded through Grambling’s university foundation. Construction is expected to start next week with a completion date of August for the annual Eddie G. Robinson High School Football Classic Jamboree.
Grambling is cashing in on the momentum from an HBCU championship in 2016.
“We’re champions, and champions deserve to play on a field as such,” Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs said.
Facility upgrades have been talked about for years. The latest changes came in 2013 when the weight room under went a $30,000 renovation.
Two years ago, then-Grambling interim president Cynthia Warrick said she wanted to renovate Eddie Robinson Stadium with a new Jumbotron, new turf and a new drainage system.
The plans never materialized.
That changed last summer when new president Rick Gallot took over and later hired Bryant as Grambling’s first permanent athletic director since 2013. During a January introductory press conference, Bryant maintained one of his top priorities was to provide upgrades to the football stadium.
“Vision is to create a complex that will include an indoor facility, also include field turf for our field and also to include a Jumbotron,” Bryant said of potential future upgrades back in January. “When we talk about philanthropic thinking, having a Jumbotron is critical for our success and it’s because we can sell sponsorship. People want to be a part of that.
“An indoor facility has to wait, but the new scoreboard, which will include video, will enhance the fan experience. A new turf field helps with less maintenance and the ability to have more home games.’’
The practice field is considered Phase 2 of the upgrades, which will come at a later date.
Grambling was scheduled to have three home games in 2017, but the Tigers are moving their “home game” against Texas Southern from Shreveport to a true home game in Grambling on Oct. 28 for homecoming. That gives Grambling four home games for the first time since 2013.