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Gainesville 1 of 3 Hall schools to unveil a new field house at stadium
P.K. Dixon Field House opens Thursday at City Park
Gainesville City Schools Director of Maintenance and Operations Keith Vincent walks through the dressing room inside the newly completed P.K. Dixon Field House at City Park Wednesday afternoon.

Red Elephants open with tough non region test tonight.

Gainesville High football coach Bruce Miller has thought for a long time that the Red Elephants have one of the top stadiums in the state.

There was just one thing missing at City Park Stadium: A quality field house.

“The facility we had, it was time to redo something,” Miller said.

Gainesville athletic director Wayne Vickery, who said the plan for the new facility had started about five years prior, agreed.

“It was long overdue,” he said as he pointed out the officials old dressing room — the small press box at the little league field next door. “In the past it was embarrassing not to have good dressing facilities.”

Gainesville already had the state-of-the-art Bobby Gruhn field and the spacious Walt Snelling press box with a new sound system. The brand new P.K. Dixon Field House is the finishing touch.

“This field house gives us one of the state-of-the-art stadiums in the state,” Miller said.

Gainesville’s new 7,500 square-foot field house, which was still getting the finishing touches from workers Wednesday, will be used for the first time tonight, when players and coaches from Gainesville and opening-day opponent West Forsyth — not to mention the officials — will have the chance to use the new facility located behind the east end zone.

It’s the first time the players will be let in to see the new digs, which include a full dressing area for each team, a dressing room and meeting space for the officials, a concession stand, a spirit store and restrooms.

It’s not a full field house with offices and a weight room, but what Miller calls a “game day field house,” one that has everything needed for teams and officials before and after the game.

The Red Elephants will keep their regular facilities at the school as well, which is where they will continue to practice and lift.

But Miller looks at the new building as a necessity for a team with a profile as big as Gainesville, which plays host to top teams from all over the state.

“I thought it was one of the key things,” he said. “When you played teams out of the region it was tight quarters, but we’ve got everything we need now.”

Miller said the new field house, which he first learned was a distinct possibility just prior to the start of the 2011 season, was made possible in large part to the family of longtime Gainesville team doctor Dixon, for whom the building is named after.

“To me it just sets off that stadium,” Miller said. “It’s one of the nicer stadiums in the state, and this just completes it.”

Vickery said a win will make the night complete.

“We won a lot of games with the old facilities,” he said. “Hopefully we can win even more with the new.”

Gainesville’s not the only Hall County stadium with a new field house. Both East Hall and Chestatee’s stadiums have also been upgraded. The Vikings have an updated field house behind the end zone to replace the old one on the back side of the field, and the War Eagles finally have their first field house at the school.

The Chestatee coaches and players moved in to the finished part of the new facility Friday.

“Our community and everyone in our football program is really excited,” said Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell. “It’s been a long time coming, we’re excited and blessed to be in it.”

The school has been open since 2002, but until now the team has used facilities inside the main building, which won’t be needed now. The new field house is equipped with a 4,000 square foot weight room, coaches offices, an equipment room and dressing rooms.

The War Eagles will get their first taste of having a field house for game days on Friday, when Chestatee hosts archrival North Hall.

East Hall will have to wait until Sept. 14 to officially break in the new field house, when the Vikings host East Jackson.

The players are already excited to see it, said East Hall coach Bryan Gray.

“We’re ecstatic,” he said. “It gives the kids a real sense of pride that our field house is as good as any around.”

Gray added that the new facility, which will be completed by the first home game, includes two full size locker rooms, a large coach’s office, a training room, a storage area and even a classroom that will be used for drivers education. And, unlike the previous building, Gray said its big enough for all of the players to get dressedin.

It will also be used by soccer teams in the winter and spring.

“We wanted to have something safe for the kids and multi purpose,” Gray said. “It’s not just a building that will be used a few days a year, it’ll be used pretty much everyday except in the summer.”

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