One of Antrel Rolle's favorite memories is running on to Harris Field for the first time.
His father, Homestead Police Chief Al Rolle, had to hold him back because the five year old had missed the team's age cut off by mere months. He was relegated to watching his brother play from the sidelines. Last week the elder Rolle made sure his son was on the field when officials broke ground on the $2.1 million dollar renovation of the football stadium.
Antrel Rolle's football ambitions were realized in part by the time and work he put in on Harris Field, now a new generation will have the same opportunity on an upgraded playing surface.
As part of the Orange Bowl Committee's Legacy Gift program, the field itself will be transformed into synthetic turf made especially for football and soccer play. Around the field a new sound system and video scoreboard will be installed as well as new goal posts and nets. The restrooms, locker rooms and press box will each also be reinvigorated during the process.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to make an impact at Harris Field Park, a cherished part of the Homestead community and South Florida’s storied athletic tradition,” said Michael B. Chavies, Orange Bowl Committee president and chair in his statement. “As we began searching for a site for our next Legacy Gift, we saw a major need for the City of Homestead, the people of South Dade and the high schools in the area of the County with Harris Field Park.”
He categorizes the mission of the Orange Bowl Committee as inspiring the youth and engaging the community.
”The new Orange Bowl Field at Harris Field Park will do all that and more,” Chavies said of the mission.
That is the official new name: Orange Bowl Field at Harris Field Park.
“This is a great day for the Homestead South Dade community,” said Bob Epling, Community President at CenterState Bank at the ceremony. He helped lead the charge that brought the Legacy Gift down to the south.
“If you have a joint partnership with the City of Homestead and the Orange Bowl, put them together and create an athletic facility second to none. It should make us all proud,” Epling told the News Leader.
During the ground breaking ceremony the customary orange coats of the Orange Bowl Committee members filled the bleachers, along with members of the community.
Before the ceremonial shovels went into the customary dirt, which was neatly laid out in a row, another custom was practiced: the dramatic entering of a football team.
Surrounded by plumes of white smoke several football teams took to the field for the ceremony: the South Dade Buccaneers, the Homestead Broncos and the Everglades Prep Eagles.
“I think this is awesome,” said Everglades Prep Coach Christian Armenteros “Especially for us. We are such a young program, to see this and be a part of Homestead Senior High and South Dade Senior High that are established- it’s a great feeling for my guys.” .
Similarly they, along with many schools in South Dade will share the field in the coming years, which makes this upgrade a boom to the region for many.
“I think it’s huge,” said South Dade High School Football Coach Hudson. “It’s a long time coming, it equals the pace of what has been going on in the north section.”
It is expected that the renovations will be done by the start of the 2017 season.