MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For the first time since January, parents and fans will see the $5.4 million worth of upgrades to Myrtle Beach's Doug Shaw Stadium.
That includes a new field surface, a new track surface and sprint lanes, a ticket booth, public restrooms, a scoreboard, a press box, and a new dressing room building.
"It also provides a place for the team to go at halftime and other meeting areas," said Myrtle Beach Assistant City Manager Ron Andrews. "If there's track meets, the teams can go in that same room. It provides a room for officials that we haven't had before. Officials at halftime now have a room to go to."
Fans will undoubtedly remember having to walk through a tent to get to the stadium. Now, a new entryway plaza has been added to relieve congestion.
"What we tried to do is open it up some. The entry area was moved a little bit further to the north. There's more room now for the school officials or whoever is hosting an event here to screen folks coming in," Andrews said.
People in wheelchairs complained they couldn't see over the players on the sidelines, so there was an improvement there as well. According to Andrews, a ramp system was installed and seating was elevated.
Additionally, handrails were also installed.
As for the bleachers, the city thought they needed to be torn down and replaced all together. Then, after a few inspections, it was discovered that wasn't the case.
Crews only had to put both the grandstand seats and aisles back in good condition.
"Going forward, if we're able to maintain the steel from being exposed to the elements, it will last much longer," Andrews said.
The only area of the stadium that didn't see changes was the visitors' side. But the assistant city manager says that will be the next thing on the list to tackle.
"We'd like to increase the seating capacity on that side," Andrews said. "As we do increase seating capacity, we're going to have to address some more restrooms, which the home support building does and the visitors support building when it's constructed, and we need to address the concession area as well."
The stadium is certainly a staple in the community and has definitely seen some wear and tear over the years. But now, seven months later, coaches, fans and athletes are excited be able to enjoy what has been renovated.
Since construction started in January, every summer event that was scheduled at Doug Shaw Stadium had to be canceled so crews could start replacing the turf, bleachers and track.
Construction started right after the previous football season ended, so there weren't any games missed there.
But soccer and lacrosse had to play and practice on a separate field because of the demolition and rebuilding process. However, those weren't the only sports that had a setback.
Three big track and field meets had to be canceled - the Coastal Carolina Invitational, the Allen Connie Shamrock Invitational and the Beach Run Invitational.
The South Carolina Junior Olympics will also return now that renovations are completed.
While the stadium did lose money due to not being able to host these events, coaches said this was a perfect example of using a minor setback to make long-term progress.
Residents will be able to see the renovations for the first time when the Seahawks play West Florence on Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
WMBF News was told the stadium will close again for at least a week to tie up loose ends.