Behrman Stadium geting makeover _lowres

Renovation to New Orleans' Behrman Stadium

Chandler Mouton grew up playing football at Behrman Stadium, starring at running back at O. Perry Walker in the late 1980s.

He wasn’t about to let an opportunity like the one he had Wednesday slip away.

Mouton was one of 485 volunteers who helped give Behrman Stadium a much-needed facelift.

The project was part of a joint effort between HandsOn New Orleans and Aaron’s, Inc.

Mouton has worked for Aaron’s for 17 years.

“This is a big deal for me,” Mouton said. “The idea that they would come back and help spruce up my old stadium is a big deal. It’s heartfelt. When I found out this was this project, I felt like I had skin in the game.”

Volunteers from Aaron’s arrived on six charter buses and spent the afternoon re-painting the exterior of the stadium, the ticket booths, the restrooms and rails at the 77-year old stadium that is the home stadium for Landry-Walker and Karr.

“We have been wanting to do the stadium for years, and we have the volunteers to do it this year,” said Chris Cameron, executive director of HandsOn New Orleans.

HandsOn started in 2006 as a Katrina response recovery group to manage volunteers and has evolved into a local volunteer center. It was the seventh consecutive year Aaron’s associates did community service work during the company’s annual national managers meeting held in New Orleans this year.

This year’s efforts were focused on continuing to rebuild New Orleans after the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the last time Aaron’s held its national managers meeting in New Orleans, just months before Katrina.

In addition to painting, volunteers also did landscaping, repainted the playground and restriped the facility’s three tennis courts.

NASCAR team owner and driver Michael Waltrip was among the ones painting in the stands on the visitors side of the stadium Wednesday.

“Grabbing the paint brush and slapping on a couple coats of paints and making a difference is very rewarding for us,” Waltrip said.

About a half a football field away from Waltrip was John Robinson, CEO of Aaron, volunteering as well.

“We just think it’s important for us to be part of the community and to give back in the communities we do business in,” Robinson said. “We take a lot of pride in that. It’s part of our DNA. It feels great to do it here, considering what the city has been through.” The stadium was renovated and a new synthetic turf field was installed in 2011, but the remainder of the structure had been showing its age before Wednesday.

“Hopefully the kids will love it,” Cameron said. “We really believe it’s important to do community revitalization. Youth need positive, safe places to be kids.”

Robinson agreed.

“Hopefully when people come out and watch a football game now, they will see the nice bright and shiny stadium, and they will benefit from this as well,” Robinson said.