CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The drive to build a first class football stadium in Corpus Christi began on Feb. 10, 1939 with an event called "Stadium Day" on the Plaza Deck of the Plaza Hotel.
The total estimated project cost was $126,000, of which $80,000 would come from a government grant. The remaining money, however, had to be raised locally, and $30,000 was needed immediately for construction to begin.
From the Plaza Deck, over 200 volunteers fanned out across the city, attempting to sell 3,000 season ticket books for $10.00 each.
Many businesses and corporations bought books. Mr. A.C. Erwin of Richardson Petroleum bought 50 books (he later handed them out to loyal employees for meritorious work).
The Buccaneers had just won the 1938 State Championship and pride in the city was at a high point. Mayor A.C. McCaughan was on hand to declare that "Corpus Christi is going places...a new stadium is our present need, and we're going to get it!"
The new stadium was to built on the same site as Clark Field, where games had always been played.
As with most construction projects, costs on the proposed 15,000 seat stadium quickly rose to $150,000. And, because of government red tape, work did not begin until Jan. 8, 1940. Labor for construction of the stadium was provided by the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA).
The WPA also constructed Alamo Stadium in San Antonio.
By the time it was completed, the cost had risen to $200,000. The original "horseshoe" design (see the drawing up top) had been scrapped to save money.
The first game was played in the partially complete stadium (stands on only one side finished) on Sept. 27, 1940, but it was not until the night of Sept. 19, 1941 that the completed new stadium was dedicated by school board president, W.B. Ray, and given the name "Buccaneer Stadium".
Below is a photo that I took in the early 1980's, before renovations that changed the Leopard side entrance, added aluminum seating to the center sections, erected a new scoreboard, and provided a much needed facelift to the old stadium.
That is followed by a photo that I took shortly after the renovations.
Today, Buc Stadium ranks as the fifth largest high school stadium in Texas with a listed capacity of 18,000. (San Antonio's Alamo Stadium is still number one with a capacity of 23,000... and, as a side note, the Corpus Christi Buccaneers beat San Antonio Jefferson 14-0 in the first game played there on Sept. 20, 1940).
As a kid in the '50's, I went to some of the classic Ray-Miller games at Buc Stadium. That was followed by 50 years as a student, high school teacher, and parent of CCISD students, which meant countless games and events attended at Buc Stadium.
I would guess that more Corpus Christians have attended events here than at any other site in the city. Though not usually seen this way, Buccaneer Stadium should be counted among Corpus Christi's most historic places.
Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.
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