Friday night will be special. It will be nostalgic. It will be the end of an era.
North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding will not only be sending off a group of seniors, but will be saying goodbye to a venue.
Friday’s game against Mountain Home will be the final regular season game at Wildcats’ Stadium as the district will begin a major campus overhaul that includes wiping away the current field and replacing it in nearly the same spot with one major difference. The field will be turned 90 degrees and run north and south rather than east to west.
That’s just the beginning of the campus makeover that when done will house all students from ninth to the 12th grade. In order to accomplish this, the school district will demolish some adjoining properties as well as collapsing some nearby buildings to make room for the project.
The game will draw former players from all over the country to say goodbye to the current stadium, and Bolding said it’s a big deal all around.
“You we’ve been talking about how big of a deal it is for the players,” Bolding said, “but a big deal for the coaches as well.”
The projections state that the Charging Wildcats will be able to play in their new digs by the time next season rolls around, but even if they can’t Bolding said he will adjust.
“Whether we can or not, I’m not sure,” Bolding said. “But whether we are here, or we have to go somewhere like War Memorial, it doesn’t matter. We are going to show up and play football games.”
In the last 80 years, the stadium has seen the pinnacle of careers of Jerry Jones, who is now owner of the Dallas Cowboys and Phillip Dokes, Sr. It has also seen the tragedy of the injury that lead to the death of Kenyatta Tolbert.
What Bolding hopes with the new stadium is similar to what was accomplished 80 years ago.
“Back then this was likely the best high school stadium in the state,” Bolding said. “Some of the vision and concepts from then are still alive today. I hope that we can be forward thinking enough that what we have will be relevant 80 years from now when we are all long gone.”
All he Charging Wildcats have to do is win.
“I want the final memory of that stadium to be a great one,” Bolding said.