Ocean Springs' Greyhound Stadium is a historic site in the community, but it's also one of the oldest football facilities in South Mississippi.
That's why Ocean Springs High School athletic director Mark Hubbard and other school officials are looking into the possibility of building a new stadium on the current site on U.S. 90.
Hubbard said that officials have been seriously discussing the plan over the last year with hopes to build a new home grandstand where the visitor's bleachers are now.
“It's just getting to the point where it's starting to affect Friday night attendance, and the visitor side bleachers are a liability,” he said. “We've outgrown our locker room, and infrastructure-wise we need new toilets and showers. It's time to look at this and help the kids.
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“We've got over 1,000 athletes and 5,000 kids in this district. They deserve to have something respectable.”
The Ocean Springs football team moved into Greyhound Stadium in 1965 after playing a final game at Freedom Field on Nov. 13, 1964. The first game was played at Greyhound Stadium on Sept. 3, 1965 — a 24-6 win over Notre Dame of Biloxi.
The cost of the project would be $5.4 million, according to school district business manager Mary Gill.
“The board is discussing use of a 3 mill note and fund balance to finance the project,” Gill said. “At this time, it is undecided how much will come from each source.”
There is still work to be done in the financial aspect.
“We're still in the funding phase,” Hubbard said. “The school board has got to decide if and how they will fund it.”
The new grandstand would be comparable in capacity to the current 2,700-seat home stands, but the biggest upgrade would come in the fan experience.
“There's not enough room for people in the concession stands,” Hubbard said. “It's like a traffic jam by the concession stands, by the bathrooms and in front of the stands where they walk. It's a tangled mess.”
Along with the new grandstand, there is a plan to build a new football field house on the west end of the stadium. Part of the plan also includes new locker rooms for the soccer teams and a revamped weight room.
Hubbard has been encouraged by the largely positive response to the proposal.
“Anybody that comes out there and is affiliated with the district, I feel like the majority are very supportive,” he said. “You have naysayers in everything, but the focus is doing what we think is best for the district.”
Hubbard points out that the impact of a new stadium would go well beyond the football program.
“There are going to be new locker rooms for soccer,” he said. “The band uses it. ROTC uses it, lacrosse. It's going to help growth across the program. Every kid in this district uses the stadium in some way.”
The current field house would be used as a dressing room for visiting teams and the artificial turf will also be replaced.
“The current facilities were built back in the day,” Ocean Springs football coach Ryan Ross said Thursday. “Ocean Springs was a much smaller school at the time. As far as total space and housing the teams we currently play, it's a tight squeeze.
“We want to put forth the effort to not only have adequate facilities, but facilities that everybody enjoys to come to and get to use.”