(08/29/13) - It's opening day for the high school football season in Mid-Michigan.
That means plenty of tailgating and the kick off of The Highlight Zone on ABC12. It's also a new beginning for a historic Flint football facility.
Thursday's game between Flint Northwestern and Beecher High Schools kicks off a new era for Flint's Atwood Stadium.
"It's a great day for athletics in the Flint area. It's a great day for Atwood Stadium. We're excited at Kettering University to have these stands filled tonight and for many future games," said Jack Stock, Kettering External Relations Dir.
With the start of the high school football season, the 84-year-old venue becomes a part of Kettering University's campus. The city of Flint hasn't officially handed over control just yet, but it could happen any day.
"Everybody's been working together, so there's some final paperwork that has to get done," said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.
"The many meetings we've had, we've all gotten to know each other and there's a trust factor there, and we're going to build on it," said Judge Duncan Beagle, Stadium Authority board member.
While the city is technically selling the facility, Mayor Walling thinks of the deal as more of a partnership.
"We're going to continue to work together, make it a place that's student friendly, athlete friendly, and here for families. We need to get more programs and more sports, and get this facility in shape so it can handle all those great events again," he said.
That's something the Atwood Stadium Authority has been working on since the mid 1990s. Kettering's involvement will lead to new field turf and other upgrades, maybe as soon as next summer.
"I think this is one more example that we are not going away. We are open for business. We have a lot of things to go to improve Flint, and improve this facility, but it's slowly happening," Beagle said.
In the meantime, Kettering plans to begin using this new corner of its campus right away.
"The intramural teams we have are dying to play here for their championships this year alone, so we have lots of plans for the future, in terms of utilizing this for our students. Club football? Don't know for sure, but I am certain that we have some exciting things going on," Stock said.
Kettering is planning an official Atwood ribbon-cutting reception for Sept. 30.
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