BRADENTON -- A lightning delay and steady rain failed to put a damper on the festive atmosphere as IMG Academy unveiled its new stadium before a crowd of about 2,500 people.
The Ascenders football team squared off against Palm Beach Lakes Community on Saturday in a Kickoff Classic that marked the debut of IMG's new program as well as its stadium.
Despite the downpour, Roy Zook, of Palatka, enjoyed the views from the sparkling press box area that leads into VIP suites.
"You don't see puddles," said Zook of the facility's drainage, although persistent heavy rain eventually yielded puddles later. "The field drains nice. ... They could go out there right now and play the game as long as there isn't any lightning."
Zook was in town to take a peek at IMG's field as a possible host to the Georgia-Florida All-Star high school football game in the future.
"We were talking about
over at Daytona Municipal at first," Zook said. "Just because of location ... Here (at IMG), they have a great practice facility, equipment, game field."
What grabbed Zook's attention were the facilities and the hospitable nature of the people and staff associated with the program.
The former also caught LuAnne Kinder's eye.
She made the trek north from North Port to see IMG's new stadium.
"The whole seating, everything," said Kinder of what impressed her most about IMG's stadium. "I don't think it's too big. Some stadiums are too big."
The stadium, with a large grandstand and façade to encompass the entrance and two concession stands, was flanked behind one end zone with a JumboTron.
With all the amenities in place, the stadium was introduced without a hitch -- not counting the weather delaying the 7:30 p.m. start time.
And it meant the beginning for the IMG student body, parents and general football fans to get a glimpse at a new program in Bradenton.