NEW IBERIA — Come late fall, home games will hold a different meaning for the football teams and fans at New Iberia Senior High and Westgate High.
For years, the schools have shared Lloyd G. Porter Stadium, located behind the former New Iberia Senior High on Bank Avenue, taking turns scheduling home games on the field.
But those days will end later this fall when the teams move into new stadiums.
Construction on the schools’ football stadiums and synthetic turf fields continues this summer, although the projects are not expected to be entirely complete until after the football season starts, Iberia Parish Schools Superintendent Dale Henderson said. The stadium projects total about $6 million, he said.
While the stadium work is expected to be finished before football season, work laying the turf may take longer because it’s dependent upon the weather and we’ve had a rainy summer so far, Henderson said.
Ever since New Iberia Senior High was built in the late ’60s, its team has used the old school’s stadium, then started sharing it with the city’s other high school, said Curt Landry, New Iberia Senior High principal.
“Sharing it has become more of a challenge now that we’re in different divisions,” Landry said. “The wear and tear of two teams playing on a grass field and weather coming into play — it can get sloppy out there.”
Henderson said because of the condition of the field the schools have had to use alternative sites, such as Clark Field in Lafayette, which has a synthetic turf.
There’s also an added cost of about $600 each game to transport the football teams, band members, cheerleaders and other spirit groups, Landry said.
Other school teams and the community’s pee-wee football teams that play on Saturday will also benefit from the upgraded field, he said.
“We like that now the kids can be at school and walk out the doors and be at the game,” he said.
The two stadium projects, as well as a new turf field for Loreauville High School, are part of a $50 million bond issue approved by voters in 2013. The bond measure renewed an existing 21.9-mill property tax rate that also funded other school projects across the parish, such as technology upgrades, surveillance camera systems for all elementary schools in the school district, and a recently completed $4.3 million auditorium for Jeanerette High School.
The bond package also includes a new elementary school, a project estimated at $13 million. The school board is finalizing the purchase of 22 acres behind Belle Place Middle School, and the design work will being shortly after, Henderson said. School construction isn’t expected until late 2016 or early 2017, he said.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.