The Stadium get a face lift
Every week for months, Steve Moss circled the Tommy Oliver Stadium construction site to check up on progress, how things were moving along and what was changing.
He was there so often, he joked he was like an expectant father, anxious and nervous to see what would arrive and how everything would turn out. The construction crews gave him his own set of plans, basically the stadium’s ultrasound, that he would thumb through periodically. The pages even had his name on them.
As the Bay District School Board Vice Chairman, and possibly the most openly frustrated board member when the stadium’s price tag jumped from $7 million to $12 million early in the construction timeline, Moss said he understood there was a lot riding on the project. They only build this kind of stadium once every half-century, with the original Tommy Oliver Stadium going up back in 1955. And anyone who has spent any amount of time in Bay County understands Tommy Oliver isn’t just a stadium; it’s a community icon, a shrine of memories from students, teachers and athletes past.
After a year-and-a-half of demolition and construction, the new Joe and Jeanette Chapman Field at Tommy Oliver Stadium made its debut, the rubberized Garry Terrell Track of Champions courtesy of the Charles A. Whitehead Foundation, sporting a fresh coat of paint and a newly unfurled American flag blowing in the spring breeze.
The 7,000-seat stadium is “night and day” compared to the old facility, Moss said, with technology “miles above” what the stadium was capable of previously. The state-of-the-art scoreboard has instant-replay technology, high quality zoom, and the capability to play commercials between plays and during halftime, opening up fundraising possibilities for the district’s many booster clubs. Four schools in the district — Mosley, Bay, Rutherford and North Bay Haven High Schools — will call the new Tommy Oliver home, though the first official events held on the field will be graduations.
Now it has become the Home of The Florida Roots.