Troy State football field may get new name

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2003

Good-bye Scrushy, hello Movie Gallery?

Troy State University's football team could have a new name to go on their newly renovated stadium.

A Troy City Councilman said he was told that the name of Richard Scrushy Field at Memorial Stadium will be changed, though TSU Athletics Director Johnny Williams, through a spokesman, denied that any deal has been completed.

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Charles Meeks, who represents District 2, said he had been told about the deal by TSU officials.

"I am told the stadium will be changed and may be a month or so before it's done," he said. "I was told I could make the statement that the new name will be Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium."

The name of Richard Scrushy has come under fire recently since the former CEO of Healthsouth, a Birmingham-based rehabilitation company, was accused by the federal government of being party to a scheme to fake over a billion dollars in profits since 1999.

Though that sort of money isn't on the table with regards to the name of the TSU stadium, there will be some funds changing hands.

Ted Innes, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Movie Gallery, hinted at a deal in the works, but wouldn't confirm anything.

"We're not ready to discuss that yet," he said.

When asked about the current state of the dialogue with TSU, he remained coy.

"I don't know if you'd call it negotiations," he said. "They made a presentation to us."

Innes said contacts with TSU regarding sponsorship had been going on "for a year or two," and he said that he recalled contacts as far back as April 11, 2002 - well before news of Scrushy's troubles began.

"We get a lot of presentations, from Troy, Auburn, Florida State and a lot of schools. A lot of schools want us to sponsor them."

Innes said no stadiums were currently named after Movie Gallery, but said the company was the namesake sponsor of a Peanut Festival amphitheater in Dothan.

Meeks said Williams told him Movie Gallery would provide $5 million over the next 20 years in $250,000 installments.

"I specifically asked Johnny then, 'Can I tell that?' and he specifically said 'yes'."

Williams, however, declined to comment, but a spokesman for TSU athletics confirmed that negotiations are underway.

TSU spokesman Dave Barron deferred all questions to sports information officials, who said they were still in negotiations and didn't want to put a timeframe on when an announcement would be made.

Doug Hawkins, president of the Board of Trustees, said the board was responsible for any and all name changes of buildings and facilities on the TSU campuses, but said he no deals had been finalized that he was aware of.

He said the next Board of Trustees meeting would be on the afternoon of May 9, after graduation ceremonies.

Scrushy's name was added to the field at Memorial Stadium when he gave TSU a pair of $500,000 checks on the night the school's move to Division I-A was announced. The stadium's capacity was expanded to a capacity of 17,500 and will seat 30,000 next season when renovations are complete.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement that a group will petition the Troy City Council to change the name of George Wallace Drive - the road on which the stadium sits. If the measure is successful, TSU football could go from playing at Richard Scrushy Field at Memorial Stadium on George Wallace Drive to playing at Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium on Veterans' Memorial Parkway.

Clif Lusk contributed to this report.