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Local Community celebrates opening of new APSU Govenor’s Stadium

 

Austin Peay State University Sports - APSU - Governors - Lady GovsClarksville, TN – On Saturday the community gathered on Austin Peay State University to attend the ceremonies opening the brand new APSU Governors Football Stadium. The new world-class facility replaces a 68 year old stadium originally built in 1946 as the Clarksville Municipal Stadium.

The new stadium cost $19 million, and has four levels, with most of the offices and dressing rooms, as well as a training room, on the first floor. On the second floor, there will be meeting rooms and an additional weight room. Fans on levels 3 and 4 will find the amenities of club seating and skyboxes – new features to the stadium. The skyboxes are tiered stadium-type seating with up to 22 seats per viewing room. In addition, each skybox has a bar with locations for bar stools, tables and chairs to seat four to six people.

The ribbon cutting opening the new APSU Governor's Football Stadium. APSU President Alisa White and Hendricks Fox cut the ribbon

The ribbon cutting opening the new APSU Governor’s Football Stadium. APSU President Alisa White and Hendricks Fox cut the ribbon

Dave Loos, Jr of WJZM 1400 AM served as the Emcee of the ribbon cutting ceremony. “It is truly exciting to see so many familiar faces and friends back on campus today. It is with great honor that I can look at this new stadium and say, “This is your stadium, this is the new Austin Peay!””

Dr. Alisa White, president of Austin Peay State University spoke first, “I am most fortunate today to see you here and celebrate a truly historic occasion in the history of Austin Peay State University,” she said. “And while I’m looking out at the audience those of you who are supporters, those of your who are Governors, and those of you who love this university. I am looking at people with vision!”

APSU President Alisa White addresses the crowd

APSU President Alisa White addresses the crowd

She credited Dr Sherry Hoppe and former APSU President Tim Hall for shepherding the drive for the new stadium. “I am here standing truly on the shoulders of giants, and people say that all the time but what does it mean? It means there people here today like you who stuck their necks out to do something significant and big, when it was really hard to do! You had to have vision to do it!”

She also credited Athletics Director Derek van der Merwe for continuing the drive to bring a renewed focus on athletics back to Austin Peay State University. “And frankly, if I could have taken some the credit for hiring Derek van der Merwe I certainly would, because he is a rock star!” She continued, “We’ve had a lot of discussions about the importance of Athletics and the importance of football to Austin Peay State University. I have met with him as I do all of my leaders on a regular basis, and he is always prepared! He has a vision, and a system for success! He has a team with his assistant athletic director and his coaches and what that means is what you see today is just the beginning of continued greatness! Were going to keep getting better and better, and were going to build on your legacy.”

A giant APSU Governor adorns the side of the new stadium

A giant APSU Governor adorns the side of the new stadium

White acknowledged that the new stadium would not have happened without community support “Like Mr. Fox said at the breakfast this morning, that it takes money to do this! And what I want to say here today is I know you are the ones who gave it! Thank you for giving of your time, your resources, and in some cases your sweat to actually get this done! And I’m so grateful for your investment in Austin Peay!”

She continued, “As we do this, I would like for you to think about the people who really had the vision and who invested but never forget that they did it not for today, they did it for the future! They did it so that we can recruit well. They did it so that we can have this truly first-class stadium here at our first class University! And so everything that you doing today is not for us, and not even for you it is for all of those guys who are going to follow you! It’s for the band, the band members love to play for our sports teams, and they love to play for the fans! It’s for the cheerleaders, it’s for the dance teams, it’s for the students who will rally together to become governors, and they will have lifelong friends because of what you’ve done here today.”

White concluded, “So as we celebrate the past we do it recognizing how important it’s going to be for our future! Thank you for being here and let’s have a great day! Thank you all for your support!”

Derek van der Merwe, the Director of Athletics at Austin Peay State University

Derek van der Merwe, the Director of Athletics at Austin Peay State University

Derek van der Merwe, the Director of Athletics at Austin Peay State University was the next to speak, “As I started out this morning by saying, I feel like I’m at a family gathering. This is a family reunion of people past, present, and future; that have a vision for Austin Peay, and what this great university can be! So thank you very much!”

van der Merwe took a moment to thank his wife Amy, “This morning I thanked the team of people who helped put us here today! The one person on the team who was not up there in front was my wife Amy. She has been very tolerant and patient with me as we had to make a lot of sacrifices to get this thing done and do it right. So thank you Amy for your support through this last year and I really appreciate all that you’ve done!”

He also credited the leadership that made the new stadium possible, “Today I just wanted to start by saying this has happened because of great leaders. I would say the train derailed because leadership probably didn’t have the focus that should have had on this football program in the past.”

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the new APSU Governor's Football Stadium

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the new APSU Governor’s Football Stadium

He continued, “It took Sherry Hoppe to have something in her gut to stand there and say, “this isn’t right! We’ve got to do something right for this community, to stand up and put football back in the place it deserves,” then it takes Tim Hall to sit there and say, “Let’s get the people behind it; let’s get the community involved.””

van der Merwe spoke about the ultimate beneficiaries of the new stadium. “Let’s understand this is not about Austin Peay State University this is about a community. Today you see Congressman, Senators, Mayors, County Mayors. Their vision is not for Austin Peay, and this little 5 to 6 block area here; it’s about this entire community, and how doing something right, striving for excellence, can change an entire community! Of how they interact and communicate, an identity that can be shared”

The Jenkins family at the dedication of the Blake Jenkins Plaza

The Jenkins family at the dedication of the Blake Jenkins Plaza

He hopes that the stadium will provide a new focus for the community. “I said this morning Butch Jones talked about painting the state orange; this is red! Look at you today! This is our home! And when you come into Clarksville, you’re going to have mayors that sit there and say, “No you are not accepted!  This is our community, and this is our identity!” We rally behind our Austin Peay Governors, and we want to be proud of that!”

van der Merwe continued, “When we started this project the vision that we had for was that I wanted to see people walking through the hallways, walking through history, and I wanted people to experience the stadium! A stadium has a soul, it has a spirit. It stands for something! It needs to have something that when you look at it; it reflects you and your identity, you connect with it! You feel like you are home!”

APSU Football Traditions

APSU Football Traditions

History and traditions are important for the university a fact that van der Merwe is very cognizant of, “It’s a great honor to see the history that showed up today. Our history is what this place is built around, respecting the past and the people that made this great institution what it is today.”

He continued, “And as I was walking through after the breakfast this morning I saw people looking at all the displays walking through and going, “Man, this is great!” I overheard a few former football players sit there and say, “Wow! I wish we would’ve changed in a locker room like this, where did this come from,” you know what, this is yours too! And I hope that you see in the displays and especially this display here the Hendricks Fox Walk of History that we’ve honored you. We’ve taken the time to slow down and respect the past and this community which has made us great!”

Hendricks Fox and his wife Michelle with Derek van der Merwe, Roy Gregory, and APSU President Alisa White at the dedication of the Hendricks Fox Walk of History

Hendricks Fox and his wife Michelle with Derek van der Merwe, Roy Gregory, and APSU President Alisa White at the dedication of the Hendricks Fox Walk of History

Hendricks Fox, a former all-conference center for the Austin Peay football team in the late 1940s and early 1950s was on hand with his wife Michele. “This is tremendous I can’t imagine it,” Fox said. “ This is unreal,” added Michele. “It’s blowing my mind, It’s a great honor,” Fox concurred. “This is really humbled him seeing this like this, it really has, said Michelle. “It’s really magnificent”

“It’s thrilling and humbling to see all the people who came out to see the opening of the new Austin Peay Governor’s football stadium,” said APSU Governor’s Head Coach Kirby Cannon. “This level of support from the community makes me feel privileged to be the football coach here at this time. I knew that when I took the job that it was going to be a special time as we finished the stadium, and we had events like this where you bringing back some of the great football players and coaches who got us to where we are today. We’ve got former head coaches, former presidents of the University here, it’s a very very special moment and one that doesn’t happen very often.”

Checking out the view from the John and Trish Foy Presidential Suite Skybox

Checking out the view from the John and Trish Foy Presidential Suite Skybox

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and State Senator Mark Green

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and State Senator Mark Green

Jimmy Dunn of Dunn insurance remembers the Clarksville municipal Stadium quite well, “Seeing Austin Peay State University get this new stadium is just a marvelous thing for me in my lifetime because I was born and raised on Marion Street, and my dad was in charge of concessions at the old stadium, back when it was the Clarksville Municipal Stadium. I remember seeing all of the high school and Austin Peay games there. So being here today at the opening of the new stadium is truly a thrill for me!”

State Sen. Mark Green was ecstatic about the new stadium in his district, “Oh it’s fantastic! The addition to the community, the ability to recruit and grow the football program, it grows the college. It benefits the community. It’s really awesome! The facility is top-notch, I mean it is state of the art. I went through just a few moments ago, and UT’s got nothing on this! So they can paint the rest of the state orange, but they need to leave this part of the state APSU red!”

The dedication of the new locker rooms

The dedication of the new locker rooms

State Representatives Curtis Johnson and Joe Pitts

State Representatives Curtis Johnson and Joe Pitts

State Representative Curtis Johnson, highlighted the State of Tennessee’s contribution to the stadium, “It feels great seeing this world-class facility at Austin Peay State University finally come to fruition. This project is the result of a lot of cooperation between the University, and the state; and has been needed for many years. It will add to the appearance of our University which is a beautiful university already, and it will also help in recruiting new players to come to Austin Peay.”

State Representative Joe Pitts agreed, “This is a great day for Austin Peay, a great day for our community, a great day for the state. It’s been a long time coming! This is an iconic structure which really stands out and helps to frame the campus.”

Artwork adorning the walls of the Blake Jenkins Plaza

Artwork adorning the walls of the Blake Jenkins Plaza

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett was excited about the new facility, “Oh this is unbelievable man. It is the cream of the crop! Today, we’re as big as the University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, it doesn’t matter Austin Peay State University is the place to be right now!”

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan agreed, “The new stadium is absolutely fantastic! I was up there this morning, and here I thought I would never see the day that we would have a stadium that is as beautiful as it is. I think it is a real tribute to the city of Clarksville, and Montgomery County! We are so proud of them for what our University has done here.”

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