WOC Event Center closed for repairs after fire
Last updated 7/22/2023 at 11:55am
The fire that started on June 29 outside the newly constructed press box at Dan R. Hooks Stadium caused significant damage to the stadium and the neighboring West Orange-Cove Event Center. The damage will cause the event center to be closed for at least four months according to a press release from the West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District (WOCCISD).
The press release stated the cause of the fire has been investigated thoroughly. It was determined that the sun reflecting off the angled glass of the press box at the back of the stadium onto the vinyl VIP seats with special covers located in front of the press box was what initiated the fire.
The corrosive fumes from the fire have affected all the soft spaces within the structures and will now require extensive renovation to ensure the safety and functionality of those facilities that were damaged. The event center will be accessible only for two earlier scheduled events in early August.
Regretfully, the WOCCISD informed that the West Orange-Cove Event Center will be inaccessible for at least four months other than for those two events. As a result it is highly unlikely that the West Orange-Stark Mustangs will be able to utilize the new press box at the football stadium for the 2023 football season which starts in late August.
Athletic Director Hiawatha Hickman clarified the availability of Dan R. Hooks Stadium, also known as Mustang Stadium, for the upcoming football season. "We will play all our home games here at Mustang Stadium. We're fortunate enough to still have the press boxes that we had last year on the visitors' side of the stadium, and we'll go forward until the new press box is ready," Coach Hickman stated.
The Mustangs will begin football practices at the stadium starting Monday, July 31, followed by scrimmages and the start of the regular season. Hickman explained, "It worked out for us just right because last year we played both scrimmages here at Mustang Stadium, so this year we'll be on the road August 11 at Woodville and then we'll be on the road August 17 at Vidor for the scrimmages. The week after that we'll be at Nederland with our season opener. For the first three weeks of the season as far as contests we'll be on the road."
Meanwhile the West Orange-Cove Event Center was to be the home for the Lady Mustangs during the volleyball season this fall, but that is on hold so games will be played in the gym at West Orange-Stark High School. The girls and boys basketball seasons beginning later this year are tentatively scheduled for the same gym until reparations are completed on the event center.
The West Orange-Cove School District has made the decision not to rush the restoration process and made a commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for all future events. The district's primary concern is to prevent any recurrence of the burnt smell that may resurface in the future. The school district promised to provide regular updates to inform the public about the progress made and any changes to the anticipated timeline.