East Ridge mayor expresses gratitude for stadium funding - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

East Ridge mayor expresses gratitude for stadium funding

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UPDATE: Mayor Brent Lambert thanked all stakeholders involved with funding a new East Ridge Stadium. 

"I would like to express my personal appreciation, and that of our entire city, to the Hamilton County School Board for its decision to fund new seating at Raymond James Stadium at East Ridge High School. 

Because the former stadium was condemned in August and razed in December of last year, it would have been easy to simply let this subject fade away.  However, the School Board and County Commission engaged in a deliberate, constructive dialogue on the issue that culminated in last week’s decision.  I especially want to thank our city’s representatives on those respective bodies, David Testerman and Tim Boyd, who were at the forefront of that dialogue.

I believe that athletics and other extracurricular activities play an important role in the education and maturation of students.  They also serve as a rallying point for communities.  I feel certain the stadium issue has done just that in East Ridge; it has rallied generations of alumni and supporters to take an active interest again – to reconnect to our alma mater. 

Again, I applaud those who weighed in on this decision and the lasting impact it will have on current and future students at East Ridge High School.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Coaches and players, past and present, came to check out the final moments of the Raymond James Stadium. The 50 year old facility has seen its share of wear and tear but Pioneers of all ages will never stop defending The Ridge.    

A different sound is echoing throughout the Raymond James Field in East Ridge. Cheerleaders and the sound of the band are replaced by a bulldozer tearing down the stadium.

READ MORE | UPDATE: School board takes first step to rebuild Raymond James Stadium

“I saw it on Facebook where coach said it was coming down today. So I wanted to come back and see it one last time,” said Kip Klein.

Kip Klein played on the field back in the 80's. Saturday his memories of playing came flooding back. “Getting to play here for four years and playing against McCallie, making the playoffs, my junior year we beat all the teams that went to the playoffs. We didn't get to go. Bitter Sweet time for East Ridge.”

In August the bleachers were condemned. A structural engineer toured the stadium and says the damages are beyond repair. “To know the county made the right decision, our country came in and found out the stadium was unsafe, made a good decision for the kids. I applaud that,” said Coach Malone.

As Coach Malone stands on the track looking at the stadium, he is reminded of the great men who have played on this field. The men who made Raymond James Stadium home of the proud. “I think every coach or player who ever coached and played here were standing on the shoulders of giants. Raymond James was the coach who put East Ridge on the map. Southeast Tennessee and Georgia area so many coaches played here and coached here. It’s like our own fraternity.”

Coach Malone says he is not sure if the new stadium will be ready for the 2016 season.

Stick with Channel 3 for details of the stadium for East Ridge High School.

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