Commission: $3.8 million designated for Henderson Stadium upgrades after stadium swap

The $3.8 million that Macon-Bibb Commission will be generating from the sale of the Ed Defore Sports Complex will be required to be used for upgrades and maintenance to Henderson Stadium/Evan Watson (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- A pending $3.8 million deal for Macon-Bibb County Commission to sell the Ed Defore Sports Complex to the Bibb County Board of Education is nearly set for final approval from both sides.

The sale would require Macon-Bibb Commission to use the $3.8 million in revenue to then upgrade Henderson Stadium, the county's oldest active high school football stadium. The county would retain ownership of the stadium since it also hosts events there that are unrelated to the school system.

Keith Simmons, chief of staff for the board of education, said that they've been hoping for upgrades to Henderson Stadium and that this agreement between the two parties seemed like the best overall solution.

"It's just a little bit easier. Again, the partnership we've had with the commission has been wonderful. But not having that middle man and not having to coordinate calendars within the district as well as the commission makes operating efficiency a lot easier," he said.

County attorney Judd Drake said that in reviewing their options, commission realized that the Ed Defore Sports Complex is only used for school athletic events and felt that it made sense for the board of education to own and operate it. Drake expects the sale to be finalized within the next week, pending approval from the board of education and its committees.

"There's always a conversation around who is responsible for making repairs or up-keeps or maintenance when we don't own it. But when you own things, there's no question," said Keith Simmons.

Drake said the contract specifies that the county would be required to use the $3.8 million generated from the sale of the sports complex only for Henderson Stadium upgrades and maintenance.

There are currently $1.2 million in upgrades planned to be completed by the 2018-2019 football season, and Drake said that the $2.6 million left over would be set aside for future upgrades and maintenance rather than the county's general fund or other uses. The first round of improvements was approved at the Feb. 20 commission meeting.

The currently planned upgrades to Henderson Stadium include:

  • $300,000 for repaving the parking lot;
  • $250,000 in structure upgrades;
  • $375,000 in new lighting; and
  • other costs for fencing and other improvements.

At Tuesday's public hearing, Westside High School football coach Spoon Risper asked how much it would cost to build a new stadium instead of renovating Henderson Stadium for $3.8 million. Judd Drake said the county researched this option and found that building a brand new stadium would cost $10 million.

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