LOCKWOOD — Another state-of-the-art athletic facility just opened in Yellowstone County.
It wasn't exactly the beginning many had envisioned, though. Lockwood Stadium opened its gates for the first time last Friday night, but the grandstands were a ghost town.
“Never even imagined anything like this, as far as high school sports go. Ultimately, what you see behind me and what I don’t see in front of me is what the ultimate goal is, to get our kids out here to play, to experience something for the first time in Lockwood history, playing in our brand new facilities," first-year Lockwood athletic director Mike Erickson said. "Unfortunately, yes, no fans in the stands, but we’ve got players out on the football field and that’s exciting times for us.”
“It’s a real bummer they can’t be out here. It’s a brand new stadium, brand new high school. We wish they could have been out here to support us," Lockwood head coach Rob Digiallonardo said. "This is a milestone for the community. They helped pass this wonderful bond to build the high school, but at the end of the day we just tell the kids the most important thing is they can play, and that’s what we’re focusing on, is they get to play. If that means no fans, no fans.”
Lockwood didn’t care if there were fans or not; it was going to treat the night like any other season opener.
“We’re not going to take a backseat right now. We’ve got the music going, we’re going to have the lights on and we’re going to go just like it’s a packed house like we want it someday," said Erickson.
Eventually fans will file in and pack the stadium -- not only for football games but soccer matches and track meets, too. The field and track are both marked for collegiate competition, which could potentially allow the stadium to host several additional events in the future.
“This facility is for Yellowstone County. If people want to come out here, we’re going to open our doors up to them and try to host events -- from Special Olympics, track to divisionals to hopefully state track meets, (MSU Billings) events, (Rocky Mountain College) events, track events," Erickson said. "This is a community for all of us and we just want to be part of the community and show the facilities that this whole Lockwood community and their tax base put in for this.”