By Andie Mills
The new and revamped Fred Kelly Stadium was originally slated to open in May for its first event, the Special Olympics, followed by June graduation ceremonies. Those plans, of course, were altered. But prior to that, on Feb. 28, Orange Unified School District and city officials donned hardhats and were treated to a preview, following months of work to renovate and bring the venue into ADA compliance.
The entrances have been upgraded, with separate ticket booths and concession stands for visitors and home, both with updated signage, loading areas and enhanced lighting along the walkways.
Metal detectors were not installed, but cameras snapping photos every 20 seconds are implemented. Sophisticated stadium lighting has been adjusted so as not to annoy neighbors, and the stadium boasts the only Bose sound system in the county. The “jumbotron” has the capability for scrolling video and advertising on both sides.
The field is beautiful, with striping embedded in the turf; the Orange logo is in the center, with the logo from one of the four high schools on each corner. New aluminum bleachers will now seat 5,000. An ADA compliant press box may be reached via elevator. Larger new locker rooms and showers (in greige, with orange accents) for both home and visiting teams, new restrooms, landscaping, fountains and enhanced fencing will complete the renovation. Over 100,000 tons of dirt, some of which was used to build up the original concrete grandstands, were removed. A portion of it will be used to construct a new aquatics center at nearby El Modena High.
The stadium is striped for football, lacrosse and soccer, plus it may be used for track and field events. The original stadium, built in 1967, is named for Orange Union High student Fred Kelly, who won Olympic Gold in the 110-meter high hurdles in the 1912 games; he was also University of Southern California’s first Olympic Gold Medalist.
OUSD will install a hurdle Kelly used, an expanded monument wall and seating, and a new plaque; a dedication ceremony will be announced.
The stadium has been closed since December 2018 for reconstruction by contractor Byrom-Davey, Inc., under architect Harley Ellis Devereaux, to the tune of $18.4 million funded by proceeds from developer fees and property sales.
Fred Kelly would be proud of his new stadium
An overview of the renovated Fred Kelly Stadium field, with the Orange logo in the center, and the emblem for each of the four OUSD high schools on the corners.