Big Changes Coming to Putnam Stadium in Ashland

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Paul Blazer Tomcats will soon have a new home.

Putnam Stadium will be rebuilt.

This comes after the Board of Education unanimously approved the first phase of the multi-million dollar project Wednesday.

"76 years is a long time and a lot of use," Steven Conley said.

Conley has been taking care of Putnam Stadium in Ashland for 11 years.

"I first started coming to football games here in the early 60's, started playing football here in the mid-60's," said Conley.

It was built in 1937.

"11 state championship football teams have been housed through this 76 years here," said Greg Jackson, Putnam Stadium Restoration Foundation President.

But now, the stadium is in need of major renovations to bleachers, lighting, fencing and the field.

In March, Board of Education members rejected an initial bid for the project.

Wednesday, they approved two new bids for the $1.5 million dollar renovation. Those bids cut the cost by about $150,000.

"It's not been an easy road to go on because a lot of people are saying keep the stadium the way it is," Jackson said.

But school leaders said that's not an option anymore. They already closed some of the seating for safety.

"It's just deteriorating, not only on the surface, but underneath, too," Conley said.

"This year as a whole, we did see a decrease in attendance," said Mark Swift, Blazer High School Athletic Director.

They hope that problem will soon be the thing of the past.

"We don't plan on missing a football game at this stadium," Jackson said.

"This place has been a big part of my life," Conley said.

Construction is set to begin next month.

Leaders hope to finish the first phase before the first home game of the 2014 season.

They say they are already looking at ways to raise about $3.5 million for the project's second phase.

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