Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday on Wednesday: Life-Death of Victory Stadium

The opening of Victory Stadium, 1942.
My former mom-in-law Kitty Koomen is in the middle here.
The wrecking ball is swinging.
Ball smashes into the superstructure.
For some it was a death in the family.
Gone, but not yet forgotten.
Roanoke's Victory Stadium, built in 1942 at a cost of $300,000 and named for the goal of the Allied cause in World War II, was torn down in late June, 2006 at a cost of $486,714. It had become a political hot potato, an emotional issue that resulted in a kind of rotating City Council for several elections.

The stadium was the location of several (not many, frankly) memorable football games over the years, foremost the annual Virginia Tech-VMI game when that meant something. Later came the T.C. Williams 27-0 victory over Andrew Lewis (1971) in a game not mentioned in the movie "Rember the Titans," though it should have been. And finally, Patrick Henry High's state title 9-0 win over T.C. Williams in 1973. I covered both those high school games and thought Andrew Lewis was a better story than T.C. Williams and that PH's defense (which didn't allow a point in the playoffs) was simply awe-inspiring.

The photo at the top here is of the local daily newspaper report of the opening game in the stadium and the cheerleaders are Jefferson High School's in 1942, my former mother-in-law Kitty Koomen in the center of them. I salvaged one of the bricks from the stadium and made a presentation piece (with this photo) for her at Christmas.

I shot a bunch of photos of the stadium during its last days, including a flood that covered its surface one last time just before it was torn down. That, I said at the time, was the final indignity for a stadium that had served well over the years before neglect took its toll and left it in a condition that would have meant a huge expense to save it.

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