Happy State Bank Stadium renovations to be completed by November

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Hannah McClure

Seniors Jay Defoor, Jack McKay and Sam Williams participate in the school song at the varsity football game against Lubbock Estacado, Friday, September 11th. Defoor said the renovations brought new energy to the field and the stadium. “It’s beautiful,” Defoor said. “If you were there on Friday, you saw how much energy it brought. It’s a beautiful place; it’s the best in Texas.”

The Canyon High football teams came home for the first time this season with the bright lights of Happy State Bank Stadium, previously known as Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, illuminating the new renovations. Despite the maximum capacity of 50% in the crowd, the energy on the field and stands is high in the remodeled stadium.

The remodeling, which began during the fall of 2019, includes replacing the hill on the south end-zone with a two-story building containing new locker rooms, offices, concession stands, bathrooms, a banquet hall and a more accessible entrance into the stadium.

We believe it’s going to add more opportunities for many more students to be able to enjoy that facility.

— Toby Tucker, Canyon ISD Athletic Director

“We had to walk up the big hill coming in from the south side, which made it very difficult for folks with disabilities to get to the stadium,” Canyon ISD Athletic Director Toby Tucker said. “On the backside of the press boxes are the current bathrooms, which are also very difficult for people with a disability to have access to. This addresses that.”

Happy State Bank donated $2 million to Canyon ISD, the largest donation ever made to the district, to fund the renovations. As a part of the deal, the stadium’s name changed.

“We’ll have the premier high school stadium, not only in the Texas Panhandle, but in the state of Texas,” Tucker said. “It’s exciting; not only for our football teams, but our bands get to march there, our cheerleaders have squads cheering on it–we even held an FFA event out there. We believe it’s going to add more opportunities for many more students to be able to enjoy that facility.”

The stadium renovations are set to be completed in November.

“When it gets done, it’s going to be state-of-the-art, and it’s going to be one of the most beautiful stadiums in the state of Texas,” Head Football Coach Blake Bryant said. “It’s so unique. I’m so thankful for our community and thankful for guys like Dr. Flusche that bought into it to make it happen.”

The first varsity home football game of the season was Friday, Sept. 11 against Estacado, which Canyon won 38-0. The varsity team’s current season record is 6–0.

“Our kids were really focused and excited,” Bryant said. “We were excited to be at home, playing in front of our student body, our fans, our band and our cheerleaders. It was a really cool atmosphere.”

Bryant said the team plans on doing everything they can to keep the players safe, including wearing masks during practice and on the sidelines.

“I had a big concern of how we were going to handle all of this and set up all of these standards and expectations, and our kids completely bought into them,” Bryant said. “They just made it work. I’ve been so impressed with our kids, my worries have gone away.

It’s going to be one of the most beautiful stadiums in the state of Texas.

— Blake Bryant, Head Football Coach

After school let out last year, the team continued practices with social distancing measures in place.

“Because they nearly had it taken away from them, they’re so appreciative to get to play again,” Bryant said. “They’ve taken over this team and somehow they held us together, and now that we’re playing, I think their leadership is unbelievable. Every time we’re at practice, they’re thankful; every time we get to play a game, they’re thankful. So, it’s a really neat atmosphere on our team right now.”

Bryant said the team intends to win and win big.

“I never set any limitations on this specific group,” Bryant said. “I think this group can do anything. I think they believe in themselves. I think we have a chemistry and a unity that’s very unique, and let’s face it, we’ve got some talent too, so I think the sky’s the limit.”