CAMAS — The football game will get its due attention.
The Camas Hall of Famers will get their recognition.
But first, the star of the night is a new stadium, ushering in a new era of Camas athletics.
Doc Harris Stadium, the new Doc Harris Stadium, officially opens today with a dedication ceremony beginning about an hour prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff between Columbia River and Camas in a Class 3A Greater St. Helens League clash.
A statue of Doc Harris will greet fans as they head to the home grandstands, which will seat approximately 3,000. Across the field, the visitors section will seat close to 1,000, with most under cover.
The lighting is new. So, too, is the field. And the track around the field.
While it sits on the site of the original Doc Harris Stadium, this Doc Harris Stadium is 21st century, all the way.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Terry Cavender, Camas’ athletic director. “I think it’s going to be great for the community.”
Cost for the stadium project was close to $7 million. It was part of a larger bond passed by voters in 2007. The stadium is one of the last things built with that money, Cavender said.
This facility includes two locker rooms under the grandstands, along with concession stands, rest rooms — including family rest rooms — and storage. Seating will be easier, especially for older guests who might have had a difficult time trying to maneuver about the older facility.
There is a ramp for wheelchair access, as well as wheelchair seating — some down low in the grandstands, others high, near the announcers box. An elevator will give access to those in need who prefer to sit higher in the stadium.
“We built this, in part, to take care of all of our patrons,” Cavender said.
The older stadium was built in 1959. In 1970, it was named for Dr. Arthur K. Harris, to honor the significant contributions he made to Camas athletics.
For more than 50 years, he offered free physical exams to athletes in the community. He also could be seen on the sideline at just about every football game.
“A long time ago a shepherd taught me: Give and you shall receive. This I have done. The compensation for giving is the giving.” — Doc Harris, on that night in 1970, when the stadium was named in his honor.
Today, members of the Camas school board, staff members, students, and the community will remember again. Members of Doc Harris’ family are also expected to attend.
“This is a celebration of Doc Harris and that era and people committing themselves to students,” said Doug Quinn, the school board president. “We see that as part of what’s going on here.”
The stadium is not just for the football team or the soccer teams, but for all of Camas and its visitors.
“More people come together in this facility … than any other venue that exists in our community,” Quinn said. “It is the gathering spot for our town.”
Coinciding with the opening of the stadium is the second induction ceremony for the Camas High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Seven athletes, one coach, and one team from Camas’ sporting past will be honored.
“At 6 o’clock, we’ll have some dedications. At halftime, we’ll introduce our Hall of Fame inductees. In the middle of all that, we hope to have a football game with Columbia River,” Cavender said with a smile.
It should be a big crowd, which will help Cavender and the stadium staff in the long run.
“We gotta run an event or two in here and get the kinks out,” Cavender said. “I’m looking forward to getting our first game under our belt.”
More than three years after the bond passed for the complex, the new-look Doc Harris Stadium is just hours away from that first kickoff.