A renovation project conceived more than a decade ago is approaching the finish line.
Work is expected to be completed this week on the new artificial turf, multipurpose athletic field bearing an 18-yard-wide Bangor Ram logo at its center, leaving only a new eight-lane track and an area for related field events to be finished at J. Henry “Hank” Cameron Stadium, located behind the Cohen Middle School on Garland Street.
Student-athletes in the city can’t wait, including Anna Connors, an incoming junior at Bangor High School who helped the Rams win the Class A state championship in girls’ outdoor track this spring despite the fact that the team has not had a home meet in two years.
“It will be very nice because we’ll actually get to practice at a place where we’ll be able to compete,” she said. “It will be totally different.”
Clockwise from left: Bangor Ram’s football players Keegan Cyr (left) and Luke Missbrenner look at the new artificial turf unveiled at Cameron Stadium on Wednesday; Artificial turf unveiled at the stadium; The current phase of the upgrade includes replacing the old natural-grass field with turf and remaking the former six-lane track. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Members of several Bangor High School sports teams that will use the upgraded facility and local media were invited to see the new turf Wednesday. Supporters of the long project see an upgraded Cameron Stadium becoming another economic engine for the city. The historic stadium built in 1944 has been reconstructed in three phases over the last eight years.
The initial phase was completed in 2013 and replaced the original grandstand with bleacher seating for 2,800 topped by a new press box, addressed accessibility issues and installed a new electrical system and stadium lights. That was followed in 2017 by the addition of locker rooms and storage space behind the home bleachers.
The current phase, replacing the old natural-grass field with turf and remaking the former six-lane track, began after Bangor voters approved a $2.7 million bond issue last November.
“It’s been a long time coming, but to see these kids and the looks on their faces is unbelievable,” Bangor High School athletic administrator Steve Vanidestine said, “You can see as they walk out here today that they can’t wait to play on this field.”
The track installation is scheduled to begin Aug. 23 and requires 16 days of good weather, meaning it should be completed approximately Sept. 10, Vanidestine said.
Bangor’s first home football game of the year against Lewiston is set for Sept. 10 and currently is scheduled at Husson University, he added. When completed, the facility will be used largely for football, soccer and field hockey in the fall and track and field and lacrosse in the spring.
The stadium also will be used by Bangor Junior Football as well as youth and middle-school sports teams, and the track will be available to walkers and joggers.
“I’m glad to see it’s a multi-sport field,” said Jim Tager, who has served as Bangor’s superintendent of schools since July. “It’s a first-class facility, a fun place to watch a game and a great place to play a game.”
The facility likely will host a variety of regional and state championship events in the coming years, much as it did before it degraded. Cameron Stadium even hosted an NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers in 1959.
“In terms of what Bangor stands for, it brings back a lot of fond memories,” Bangor High football coach Dave Morris said. “I’m just so happy for our kids, for our community and for the people that put all the effort in to have this as a focal point for the city of Bangor.”
Members of the high school football team already were making a physical investment in the updated facility Wednesday, helping Morris paint a concession stand.
“From the city side of it, this is what the whole city could imagine,” Bangor High School senior and football quarterback Max Clark said. “It’s just perfect because it will benefit so many people.”