LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After 39 years as home of the Panther Nation, Abe Martin Stadium is in need of major repairs, starting with six steel light poles surrounding the stadium. They're rusting from the inside.
"Though not life-threatening to anyone yet, they are to the point of no return, they'll have to be replaced and we will need to act pretty expeditiously on this," Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight said.
In May, a wind-storm revealed one pole's loose foundation.
A company inspected each of the poles, then discovered the stadium's concrete support piers are showing substantial cracks.
"It's pretty thorough throughout the stadium and it's time for us to repair that before it gets any worse," Knight said. "That particular part is not life threatening to anyone. We've already mitigated some of that over the course of the summer just to keep large chunks of concrete from falling on pedestrians."
Replacing the lights will come at an estimated $400,000.
Administrators are looking at an additional $350,000 to fix the stadium.
Knight said Thursday the district will ask the school board to seek competitive pricing for the changes.
"I think it's real important that I let all of our fans know, they're safe sitting in the stands, but if in the next 20 years, or the next 10 years, if we didn't address this, the integrity of the stadium would be suspect," Knight said. "We're not there yet."
One immediate change to take place, the famous "LP" sign will come down. Officials say it acts as a sail in the wind, adding additional stress on the pole.
There's no decision yet on where the Lufkin staple will go, but Knight said it will still be visible from the highway and Friday night football will go on.
Knight said the earliest any major repairs could come is at the end of football season, around December.