Yellow Jacket Stadium entrance

In March, the 41-year-old entryway to Mount Vernon's Yellow Jacket Stadium was torn down. The stadium entrance is being rebuilt this summer behind booster funding. District officials say the new facility, featuring restrooms and concession stands, will be nearly twice as big as the old one. This picture was taken on July 29, 2019.

MOUNT VERNON – The new Yellow Jacket Stadium entryway is expected to be finished by August 23, one week before the first home football game, Mount Vernon City Schools Superintendent Bill Seder told the school board on Monday.

Despite the record rainfall that hit Ohio this spring and summer, Adena Corporation crews have been able to stick to a tight construction schedule. The entrance facility, which will comprise of concession stands, restrooms and ticket booths, already has exterior walls and a temporary roof in place. A concrete perimeter will be installed later this week, Seder said, and workers will begin placing metal roofing next week.

Interior plumbing and electrical hook-ups will be up and running soon, Seder added. There will be a fence installed around the facility within the next couple of weeks. The main electric panel, which controls stadium lights, the press box and scoreboard, is already operational for the fall sports season.

The parking lot behind the stadium is also being redone. It will be paved (whereas before it was gravel) and outfit with islands. The islands will include trees and light posts, and they’ll run parallel to the stadium entrance, separating two-lane traffic near the stadium from the parking spaces on the other side.

Seder expects three-quarters of the parking lot to be finished by the time scrimmages begin at the stadium in mid-August. The east end of the parking lot will be fenced off and used to house equipment for the construction of the field house and bus garage.

“It’s really coming along very nicely,” Seder said of the stadium entrance project, “and I think in the next couple of weeks you’re going to see a lot of work really going on there.”

The first varsity athletic contest scheduled for Yellow Jacket Stadium this fall is a girls soccer game vs. Mansfield Christian on August 17. The Yellow Jackets will host their first conference game against Madison on August 22. In addition, the football team will host two scrimmages this month – vs. Big Walnut on August 10 and vs. Heath on August 23.

If the stadium entrance is not completed and approved to be used by the time these competitions take place, Seder said the district will move towards “Plan B.” Porta-johns and concession trailers would likely be used in place of the permanent fixture, Seder said. He still expects fans will still be able to use the facility to enter the stadium.

Adena told Seder that the project will be completely wrapped up by August 30, when the Mount Vernon football team hosts its season opener.

The school district, and district taxpayers, are not paying a dime for the new stadium entrance and parking lot. Jacket Boosters agreed to fund the project exclusively through private donations. The district’s budget for the project was set at $500,000, Mount Vernon Activities Director Justin Sanford said in March.

A new stadium entryway has been on the district’s wish list since the 1990s, Sanford said, when the idea of building an athletics field house was first being kicked around. The 41-year-old facility had notoriously small restrooms, Sanford said, and sat too close to the track.

The new facility will be nearly twice as big as the old one, Sanford said, including more spacious restroom stalls and concession stands. It will also be ADA-compliant, which the old facility was not.

Seder explained Monday that the new entryway will be further away from the track, allowing for a plaza-like atmosphere as fans enter the stadium. There will be tables in that area, Seder said, so fans can eat and chat while watching the game.

“Where before you would walk in and you’d be met by that fence, and you’d have to go right or left and there wasn’t a lot of room, you’re going to be able to walk all the way out onto this kind of a plaza that has a lot of concrete,” Seder said. “There will be a decorative fence that will kind of encompass the radius of the track.

“You can just see how much more open it’s going to be in there, and it’s exciting to just see it continue to evolve.”

The new stadium gate will still say “Mount Vernon” on the front, although the font will be different. The facility will be laid out similarly to the last one, with one main entrance in the center and concession stands and restrooms on each side.

There will also be an eight-foot overhang that juts out from the stadium entrance, facing the field. The east and west concession stands will feature a similar overhang for customers.

Adena began working on the stadium entryway project in March. The company will also build the district’s new field house and bus garage, which are scheduled to be complete by spring of 2020. Dwight Farmer, the VP of Mansfield-based Adena and a Mount Vernon alumnus, has worked closely with the school district through the planning process.

Over the next year, Yellow Jacket Drive will be transformed from a limited pathway into a burgeoning corridor. The road will be extended to Cougar Drive, across Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s campus, and will include three brand-new facilities: Community Field House, the school district’s bus maintenance garage, and MVNU’s soccer and lacrosse complex.

For those turning onto Yellow Jacket Drive from Division Street, Yellow Jacket Stadium is the first thing they will see. Having a renovated stadium entryway and parking lot will set the tone for how visitors perceive the rest of the campus, Sanford said.

“As you’re pulling up Division Street and then down Yellow Jacket Drive, this is the first of those three facilities that you’re going to see, is the front entrance,” Sanford said. “And that was why it was real important for us to, again, match those three buildings so that they all look uniform.”

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.