By DAVID SWEARINGEN
August 20, 2019
STEPHENVILLE — After a $24.6 million renovation and west side expansion, Tarleton State University’s Memorial Stadium reopened this evening, welcoming a fired-up Texan Nation passionate about football and excited about what lies ahead.
“Today we fall in love with Memorial Stadium all over again,” said A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “This is as good as it gets. It’s well done. It’s classy. It fits who Tarleton is as a university and as founding member of the A&M System.”
Elaine Mendoza, chairman of the A&M University System Board of Regents, said the renovation and expansion will improve game-day atmosphere for fans, the student-athlete experience and the luster of Tarleton athletics.
The stadium boasts an improved press box, suites, entrances and ticket booths as well as enhanced concession facilities and premium seats with chair backs. Overall seating increases to more than 9,000, and west side stands have been converted for home fans. A $1.2 million, high-definition video board, measuring 66 feet by 22 feet, graces the south end of the field. Track-and-field surfaces got upgrades.
In addition, the Stephenville Independent School District partnered with Tarleton for a dedicated locker room for the high school Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets play at Memorial Stadium.
“This is a great day to be a Texan!” said Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio. “This momentous celebration is a reminder of the important role Memorial Stadium plays in the life of the university and the Stephenville community. It will change the landscape of Texan football and track-and-field programs for decades to come.”
The A&M System Board of Regents approved $24 million in 2016 for the project, and longtime Texas entrepreneur and Tarleton Distinguished Alumnus Mike A. Myers gave $2.4 million to have the west side expansion named the Lonn Reisman Athletic Center in honor of the winningest basketball coach in the state.
Tarleton athletic director for almost three decades, Reisman is credited with creating one of the strongest sports programs in the NCAA and one of the largest booster clubs in Division II. Since moving from the NAIA ranks to NCAA II in 1994, Tarleton consistently has placed in the top 25 polls and qualified for national playoffs in every sport under his leadership.
“Tarleton’s athletic programs bring pride and recognition to the university,” Myers said. “Lonn Reisman is an outstanding athletic director and renowned basketball coach, and he deserves to have his name join those of legendary Tarleton coaches like W.J. Wisdom, Oscar Frazier and Cecil Ballow on the school’s athletic facilities.”
Reisman said he is humbled by Myer’s generosity and today’s dedication by Tarleton and A&M University System leaders. “A transformed Memorial Stadium fosters greater pride among our students, student-athletes, coaches, fans, boosters and alumni,” he said. “People have been looking forward to this for more than 30 years. Now it is a reality.”
Memorial Stadium opened in 1951 as a tribute to the 179 Tarleton faculty, staff and students who died in World War II. A major reconstruction took place in 1977, when current features were added. In 1989 seating was expanded, the concession stand remodeled, the field house built and track-and-field facilities renovated.
“The renovation and expansion of Memorial Stadium reflects Tarleton’s rich past and makes a powerful statement about its future,” said state Rep. J.D. Sheffield (District 59). “More than a better place to play football or run track, it is a testament to the university’s ongoing commitment to provide the best possible student experience inside and outside the classroom.”