When the Wharton Tigers raced onto their new field for the first time Friday night, they had a bunch of Ricebirds to thank for it.
A herd of Brahmas can say the same thing, by the way.
Polasek Construction of El Campo built Wharton’s almost $11 million stadium in the break-neck speed of four and a half months while also renovating the East Bernard High School Stadium.
“That’s very fast,” said Greg Polasek, the president of Polasek Construction of El Campo, adding that about 10 months would be the norm.
The company broke ground on the Wharton project April 15 working to replace the old 1967 stadium.
“We were basically working 24-7 and ended up with 40 inches of rain during the time,” Polasek said. “We had doubts we’d get it done, but it came together in the end.”
Wharton’s new facility is dubbed the Eddie Joseph Memorial Stadium after a beloved former coach. It covers 22 acres, offering 2,100 seats on the home side and 1,500 for visitors on either side of a turf grass field.
The company also built a 12,000 square-foot concession stand/ restroom facility that keeps fans of opposing teams separated, and 45,000 square-feet of parking.
“It will be an incredible venue for participants and spectators alike. We want to extend many thanks to the community for supporting the bond, and we have many great events planned during our four home football games,” Wharton Athletic Director Chad Butler said in a message to the community.
Formal dedication of the stadium will take place Friday, Sept. 20 when Wharton faces the latest bunch of El Campo Ricebirds on the field. For Wharton, it’s the homecoming game.
For the El Campo construction company, it’s their first complete stadium built, although they had worked with renovation efforts in the past.
The East Bernard project, which started June 6, was one such effort. Not a true rebuild, the $1.3 million project included demolishing the home side grand stands with a rebuild for 2,000, a new concession building and renovation of existing restrooms.
“In Wharton, we had 100 to 120 guys there on any given day and in East Bernard there were 25 to 30. That’s basically all our guys, plus we had a lot of contractors,” Polasek said.
The El Campo crews were able to get the job done in the proper time frame despite the rain.
Polasek worker Kevin Stehling served as the job superintendent in Wharton while Tyler Williams took on the East Bernard effort.