ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Last year’s tornado hit the community of The Plains hard, reducing the football stadium to shambles.
As WSAZ.com’s Tony Cavalier reports, folks in that community have turned a near tragedy into celebration one year later. They packed the Athens High stadium veranda on a recent sultry summer night. Everyone was intent on getting his or her ticket to a piece of history.
“We lost everything last year,” Peggy Lane said. “Kids devastated, parents devastated. We’re happy and fortunate community has been generous and we have a great facility."
As folks walked up to get their first look at stately Scott Riggs and Family Stadium, rumor spread about the jaw-dropping state of the art field -- from a soft and cushy turf field and air conditioned press box -- to a high-powered electronic scoreboard, Athens High fans boasted out loud.
“We are recovering from the devastation of last September,” Leslie Michigan said. “It's whole new beginning for the Bulldogs. We are excited to have the opportunity. Go Bulldogs!"
Since insurance on the old field would only go so far, Athens supporters had to step up big time to make this dream come true.
With a $3 million price tag, the Bulldog blitz generated a lot of that through private donations. It even includes an armed services wall of fame, which commemorates Athens county residents who have served.
"The sign was found September 16 on the field behind the stadium, and we thought it was fitting that we bring it back out and display it in front of fans and sponsors,” Rick Essex said.