E.D. White’s new stadium project nears completion
14 August 2018
E.D. White Catholic’s sports fans will soon get to cheer on their favorite teams in a new home stadium.
A project to expand and elevate the seating on the home side of E.D. White’s Harvey Peltier Stadium at Yockey Bernard Field is nearing an end.
It began when construction crews demolished the old home side of the stadium in March to make room for the new facility. Crews worked throughout the summer on the project.
The new stadium will have a seating capacity for 2,000 spectators. It will also feature a new, larger press box, and it will have handicap accessible ramps and seating. The elevated bleachers will give fans a better view of the football field.
E.D. White president Tim Robichaux said the stadium project is in its final stages and will be completed in time for the school’s first regular-season home varsity nondistrict football game against St. James High at 7 p.m. Sept. 14.
“The work is going real well. We’re just a little bit ahead of schedule,” Robichaux said. “We were fortunate that we haven’t had weather problems to delay the construction. It allowed us to stay on schedule, so hopefully we’ll wrap it all up by the end of this month. It gives us a two-week span to put the finishing touches on it and get it ready for the first game.”
A dedication ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13. Fans will get a chance to tour the new facility at that time. When the Cardinals’ play St. James on Sept. 14, the school will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 1968 state championship football team.
The new press box will be named after former E.D. White football coach Pat Szush, who led the Cardinals to their only two state titles in 1968 and 1969.
“Coach Szush was a very successful coach, so we’re excited that the press box will be named after him,” Robichaux said.
The old Harvey Peltier Stadium, which opened in the late 1940s and was once known as St. Joseph Stadium, had limited seating on the home side for just more than 1,000 fans.
As attendance started to increase for football games and other sporting events over the years, Robichaux said there was a major need to expand the seating. Other issues included poor views of the field from the bottom rows of the ground-level seating, possible safety issues from spectators climbing the old concrete steps to get to their seats and limited space in the press box.
Robichaux said the new stadium will fix all of those issues. It will be large enough to seat E.D. White’s band, student section and fans together during football games. It was built six-feet off the ground, which will give spectators better views of all areas of the field. The press box was expanded to seven separate compartments from the previous three, which will provide more space and privacy for game officials, coaches and media members.
New restrooms were built under the stadium, and Robichaux said possible future expansion could include new dressing rooms added to the facility. E.D. White has already installed an artificial turf surface in the stadium, making history as the first local school to do so in 2013.
Robichaux said E.D. White raised $1.3 million for the stadium project with the help of 98 donors and various foundations such as The Catholic Foundation of South Louisiana and the W Athletic Foundation.
“I think everyone who was involved with the school knew this project was needed,” Robichaux said. “We really had overwhelming support for it. Now it is a good place to watch a football game. I don’t think there is a bad seat in there. No matter where you are sitting, you should have a really great view of the field.”
E.D. White Advancement Director Boyd Hebert, a longtime baseball coach who led the Cardinals to three straight Class 3A state titles from 1998-2001, said the new stadium will make watching football games more enjoyable for fans.
“It’s really nice,” Hebert said. “We’re not as big as the public school facilities, but I think overall it’s a blessing. It’s a definite improvement for us.”
The new stadium was designed by the Duplantis Design Group of Thibodaux. Onshore Construction of Thibodaux was the general contractor for the project, and Southern Bleachers installed the stadium’s grandstand and press box.
Stephen Viguerie of the Duplantis Design Group said the companies worked diligently to complete the job before the start of the fall football season.
“We’re really excited about being a part of the project,” Viguerie said. “The new facility is going to be better than the old one was. It was time to replace it. We’re really excited about the stadium and the completion of it. We’re looking forward to watching the Cardinals play there this season.”
E.D. White’s football coaches and players have said the new stadium will add more excitement for the upcoming season. The Cardinals are coming off a successful 9-2 season and a District 7-4A season last year, and they will feature explosive senior quarterback and Louisiana-Lafayette commit Brandon Legendre.
“It’s exciting any time you can see progress on the school’s campus,” E.D. White head football coach Chris Bergeron said. “There’s a lot of excitement around our program right now with the success of last year, having one of the best players in the state (Legendre) on our team and all the new construction going up.”
Legendre said the E.D. White players were pumped up while watching the stadium being built during their summer workouts.
“It definitely adds something special to this year,” Legendre said. “On a personal level, I have a cousin who is handicap with a wheelchair, so before with the stairs, she wouldn’t be able to get up there in the stadium, but now that we have the ramps, she can actually come watch me play. I’m so excited.”
Robichaux said E.D. White appreciates the support it has received from the community during the entire process.
“I would like to thank all the supporters, not only the financial supporters, but the general support from the community and around the area for being supportive of the project,” Robichaux said.