The ETSU Bucs will play their last football game at the Kermit-Tipton Stadium at Science Hill High School Nov. 19 not just for the season, but for forever.
The new $26 million football stadium will be ready for the Bucs’ 2017 season, and everyone at ETSU is eager for the project to be finished.
“To me, one of the most exciting things about opening the 2017 football season is our new stadium,” said ETSU tight-end Justin Gilliam. “To finally have a place that we can call our home and showcase our progression over the past two years is very exciting. When the stadium opens Sept. 2, I can imagine that the atmosphere on this campus will be unbelievable.”
ETSU administrators hope the new stadium will bring in lots of support for the football team. The horseshoe shaped stadium is anticipated to hold 10,000 plus people.
“The coaches and the guys have worked hard,” said senior associate athletic director Scott Carter. “They’re out there everyday on the practice field right near where the new stadium is going up. It was safe to take some small tours. We spent 15-20 minutes to have the guys look around and show them where we’re going to be.”
Scott Carter was the captain of the ETSU Bucs football team in 2002, the year before the program ended. He’s back working at his alma mater after 10 years of working with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s athletic program. Carter says he has a personal connection with ETSU and feels very fortunate to work with the football team at this special time.
“This is pretty historic,” Carter said. “In 30 years, the guys are going to come back for a Homecoming Game at this stadium and tell their grandkids the story of how they played the very first game here.”
The Mini Dome serves as an athletic facility for all of the sports on campus. It’s where the Buccaneers played football before the program ended.
Mike White, the associate athletic director for communications, explained that the Mini Dome was really convenient during football season when it started to get cold outside, but a lot of people didn’t enjoy going indoors when the weather was nice on September and October days.
“I think ultimately for the ambiance of coming to football and being part of a football game, this [the Mini Dome] hurt the program to some degree playing inside,” White said.
The Mini Dome was built in the early 1970s and opened in 1976. It was the original home for ETSU Buccaneers football until the program ended in 2003. Football was brought back to campus in 2015.
“I can’t wait for you all as students to see what the stadium is going to look like next year,” White said. “It’s going to be beautiful. The atmosphere is going to be fantastic. You’re going to have a brick archway to walk through and it’s going to be right there at the end of dormitory road, right there with all the dorms leading right into the stadium. It’s going to be a fantastic environment.”
“For ETSU, this is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said White. “Having grown up here, it’s one of the things we missed, that campus environment over weekends where you feel like you can just stay over the weekends and lets just all have a good time and enjoy the company of being Buccaneers and being fans going to the game. That’s what the football stadium is going to give us. The Dome struggled with that.”
The Buccaneers will play their first game in the new stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2 against the Limestone Saints. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.