LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – A major construction project is one week from getting underway at the home of the Lufkin panthers.
The project, approved at Thursday night's school board meeting, will mean Panther fans with disabilities will have better access to the excitement on the field.
Since 1973, Abe Martin Stadium has been the sacred home of generations of panther enthusiasts, young and old.
"I've been coming to Lufkin high school football games for probably three fourths of my life," said longtime fan Mike Capps.
Last year Lufkin ISD was notified the stadium was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. "We needed to add a number of wheel chair accessible seating, lower accessible seats for our general public all together and then a number of wheel chair accessible ramps," said Lufkin ISD superintendent Roy Knight, who believes new changes will benefit everyone.
"We think this will allow more accommodations for those of us my age and older who have a harder time up and down the stands."
He says, after next week's graduation they'll get right to work, putting in roughly 1,000 wheel chair friendly seats.
The project will cost about a half-million dollars to complete, but the expense comes at a stable time for the district.
"We've been fortunate enough to come in under budget on all of our bond projects so without spending more of our bond money than we thought we would have to, we're able to meet the needs of our handicapped patrons," said Knight.
In addition to improved seating, ramps will be installed.
"The ramps will come from behind. They'll access these actually from the parking lot area."
"I think it's something we obviously have to do but at the same time, it's something really good and needed," said Capps.
Making the excitement of Friday nights in Abe Martin, a memorable experience for all panther fans.
Knight says the project will take roughly 60 days to complete, and will be finished by next football season. They'll start working on the changes next Saturday.