With just a little over two months until the start of the high school football season, construction crews are currently working to complete Coal Miners Memorial Stadium at Harlan County High School.
Once completed, Coal Miners Memorial Stadium will include an eight-lane track, high jump facility, long jump and pole vault area and a synthetic-turf football field among other items. The football field will be named in honor of Needham Saylor, a long-time coach, teacher, principal and superintendent in the Harlan County school system.
Phase I of the project will include the construction of a 2,000-seat home section, a 1,000-seat visitor seating section and a press box. The additional phases will include bleacher expansion on both sides of the field, expansion of the locker room and training facility as well as other features.
“It is a pretty impressive facility for our kids and the community. It will be a 6,000 seat stadium, so we will have plenty of room for our fans. The venue and setting is really beautiful and it is going to be exciting,” said Harlan County School District Superintendent Tim Saylor. “There will also be a track that will allow us to host regional track meets. That will be the first that Harlan County has ever had.”
The stadium will also include a miner’s walk consisting of individualized bricks, as well as a statue near the entrance of the facility paying homage to the county’s coal mining industry.
The Black Bears will likely take the field at the state-of-the-art stadium at some point next season, but a completion date is still unknown. Harlan County will open up the home slate on Aug. 31 against Gate City, Va.
“It is progressing pretty much right on track. At some point we will be able to open it up this coming season, I just can’t pinpoint that time,” Saylor said. “Hopefully, it will be the first game against Gate City. That might not happen, but we will be playing there.
Depending on the outcome of the regular season, Harlan County could host all but the state championship game of the 5A playoffs next season.