. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A $6 million renovation at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach is in the very early planning stages, and could possibly be underway in 2016.
The Astroturf on the field is a decade old, the stands have been the same for 40 years and the visitors' side stands don't allow for much seating. Those are just some of the reasons the city is looking at renovating the popular facility.
Myrtle Beach's city manager said on Tuesday the project is something the city is probably going to include in the budget for the 2017 fiscal year.
The seats would be replaced, and the structure beneath them maintained. Plus, 1,600 seats would be added to the home side, and 2,000 to the visitors' side.
Additionally, the plans could include a new concession stand, new bathroom facilities, the replacing of the artificial turf, and a new press box with a room for cameras to set up and record or televise games live.
The new seating would put Doug Shaw Stadium in contention to host regional or state champion ship games, according to Myrtle Beach Assistant City Manager Ron Andrews.
"Small colleges may come or may look at Doug Shaw as a possibility if it has sufficient seating," he said.
Beyond Friday Night Lights, Doug Shaw Stadium sees near-constant use.
"Doug Shaw is an extremely utilized facility," Andrews said. "There's a lot of open activities that take place there. It's open to the public unless there's a scheduled event."
Some of those scheduled events are similar to what was taking place Thursday - 1,400 collegiate athletes from 45 different colleges and universities practicing for a track meet ahead of the weekend.
"We've been practicing here since Monday," said Darnell Butler, a track and field athlete.
Butler and his teammates are from Assumption College in Massachusetts. For many of them, he said, it's their first time to Myrtle Beach.
"We make a 13-hour drive here to come to this weather, but we (would) really appreciate if the stands were better, everything was top notch like better performance and everything," said teammate Luares Tavares.
The city of Myrtle Beach is working to make that happen.
"We can put in new seats, widen the aisles to make it compliant with current standards, add guard rails or handrails," Andrews said. "And that stadium will serve the community for many years to come."
The artificial turf, Butler said, would be crucial.
"Knees, ankles, joints. A new turf field can save it all," he said. "We got a new turf field at our school this year. It can make a big impact on your game and the appearance of the stadium as a whole. Like that turf looks a little run down. And I feel like it definitely needs an update because it looks like this facility gets used a lot for a lot of different events."
The city co-owns Doug Shaw Stadium with Horry County Schools. Andrews said the project is in such early stages that city leaders haven't had a chance to meet with school officials to go over the plans. That meeting is scheduled for April.
City officials hope the school district would pick up a partial part of the bill.
If all goes as planned, Andrews said construction could begin immediately following the end of the 2016 football season and finish before the start of the 2017 season.