Anticipation is building in Anna as the school district’s extensive stadium improvement project enters its final weeks of construction. The new 3,500-square-foot press box already rises majestically over home-side bleachers that now accommodate 3,100 fans and feature a large center section of Coyote-purple reserved seats. Visitors’ seating will soon expand as well, bringing the total stadium capacity to 4,600. Completing the $5-million, bond-funded project will be new entrances at the northwest and southeast corners of the complex, new restrooms on the home-side concourse and additional parking to the west of the stadium.

At his office on July 12, Anna ISD superintendent Michael Comeaux said he is pleased with the progress made and is confident that construction will be completed on time.

“The progress has been very good,” he said. “We’ve ended up with about 20 or so weather days at this point. We’re still looking at a substantial completion somewhere in the middle of August.

They should be off site by the end of August and we should be ready to go September 7 which is the first home game. … There’s an air of excitement about it. I know in speaking directly with the board, they’re really excited about getting it done.”

Comeaux became Anna superintendent just six weeks ago after an eight-year stint as superintendent of Post ISD in West Texas. There, he oversaw a great deal of construction, including a stadium rebuild and a new indoor practice facility – ironically, by the same general contractor now upgrading Anna’s stadium, Lee Lewis Construction. A Texas Gulf Coast native, Comeaux also has extensive high school football coaching experience and was an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin State University for a time. He knows the value of new facilities and their effect on an athletic program and the surrounding community.

“It really helps the morale,” he said, “not only of the staff but really of the kids. It changes their outlook on how their program is perceived by the community. And it really helps when you’re trying to build a culture of success. That’s one of the first steps. If you have a very nice facility that the kids are proud of, it makes them proud of their town.

“I think this is an outstanding community with a lot of potential,” Comeaux said. “There’s a lot of potential to try to resurrect some of the traditions of Anna. That’s one of my main goals, and to build a culture of success here – not only, obviously, in the classroom but also on the field. I was spoiled of that as a child, as a player and as a coach. So hopefully we can build that same culture here.”

Comeaux said his experiences with this project’s architect, WRA, and Lee Lewis Construction have been quite positive. “This is my first experience with [WRA],” he said. “It’s been very pleasant. I think they’ve done a very good job for us. Lee Lewis Construction, I’ve had the pleasure of working with them for the last five years at Post. So I’m very familiar with that company and with the owner…. They’ve done a very good job. I know Lee Lewis, Incorporated, has a tremendous amount of resources. If something was to get behind - and it really has not - they have the ability to catch the job up.

“It’s still a little nerve-wracking because of weather,” Comeaux said, “but a lot of the project now is dried-in so they don’t have a lot of apprehension. We meet weekly, every Tuesday morning. And Tuesday morning of this week they had absolutely no concern that we’re not going to be ready. They’ve done a fantastic job and they’re real easy to work with, very amenable to the district.”

Anna coaches, of course, are also enthusiastic about the Coyotes’ and Lady Coyotes’ new digs. “I think it’s good for the community,” football defensive coordinator Noble Polk said during a break at the strength and speed camp on Thursday. “It gives us excitement going into the season, something new to look forward to.”

By phone, offensive coordinator Joey Hector said, “I can’t believe how much that renovation has changed the outlook down there. … It generates so much excitement because it’s new. And the fact that the school is willing to put that much money into the program gets the community excited. It will be a good place to meet on Friday night and watch football. … The kids, they can’t wait. They’re so excited about going down there.”

“It does change the atmosphere of the whole set-up,” Lady Coyotes soccer coach Marlon Madrigal said, also by phone. “It changes the way you look at Anna as a whole. People are actually going to want to come and sit in the press box.” He added, “More schools will want to come play [here].”

Anna’s opponent for that September 7 football home-opener is Class 5A Fort Worth Eastern Hills. The Coyotes open the season at Whitesboro on August 31.