COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - A vision Columbia School District’s Superintendent Dr. Jason Harris said he has had for the past three-and-a-half years is now coming to reality.
“We’re very excited to start this project here with the citizens of Columbia,” Harris said. “Our original field is currently being demolished. Most of this originates back to the 1950s.”
Columbia High Schools’ Wildcat Stadium at Payton Field will soon have a new look.
“We’ll have new bleachers on home and visitor, a new turf football field, a new surface track, nice regulation track, actually it will be the first one, only regulation track in Marion County and also a new video board to go along with concession stands and restrooms,” Harris said. “Our home side will seat 2,500 with 500 chair back seats, the nice foldup chairs, and we’ll seat about 1,000 on the visitor side.”
Harris said the new football stadium will also include cabanas at the top of the home bleachers.
“They’ll be eight covered areas that are 12x12,” Harris said. “They’ll have 12 cushion seats; they’ll be covered so you can stand up and they’ll have catered food brought in for every home game.”
Another feature of the facility, the statue of football great, Walter Payton.
“We’ll have a new entry plaza that really will kind of memorialize him in a sense there as you walk in just pay homage to the great athlete that he was and the foundation of what he means to Columbia,” Harris said.
Also excited, Columbia High School Head Football Coach Chip Bilderback. He said the high-quality turf field will be a game-changer.
“If it pours down rain, we’re going to be able to play on it within 30 minutes and that’s going to be no rainouts for football or soccer, or you know, any type of band and track,” Bilderback said. “We are excited. It’s not just going to be a football stadium; it’s going to be something that’s going to help our whole community.”
The stadium is expected to be completed in early August 2021.
“It’s hard not to smile every morning when you see more and more things being demolished,” Bilderback said. “In six months, we’ll have something that, you know, we think is going to be the best in the state of Mississippi.”
“We’re very excited about this,” Harris said. “We anxiously look forward to Sept. 10 in our first game against Petal. We want everyone who comes here to our facility to have a premiere experience in our facility.”
Harris said completion of the facility costs around $6.2 million. With the help of the school board, he said they’ve written grants and secured money from the NFL.