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Memories of Fouts will never fade

Fouts Field at the University of North Texas has to rank fairly high on a list of Denton’s historic places, and memories about the venue are flowing as demolition work continues.

Anyone who ever competed there or sat in the stands holding hands with a college sweetheart during an event would probably tell you that this old field has a special place in many hearts.

Fouts Field was the home of UNT’s football program from 1952 to 2010, and some of the greatest moments and eras in UNT history took place at the stadium during that span.

Many young athletes pursued their dreams there — Joe Greene established himself as one of the top players in college football history at Fouts Field. Greene played for UNT from 1966 until 1968, when he was a consensus first-team All-American.

Greene helped lead UNT to the Missouri Valley Conference title in 1966 and 1967, when the Mean Green won all 11 games it played at Fouts Field.

Fouts Field also saw its share of great coaches through the years — working on both sidelines.

Legendary head coach Hayden Fry coached at UNT during the Fouts Field era and led the Mean Green to 10-1 and 9-2 finishes in the final two years of his tenure at the school from 1973-78.

“Fouts Field will always have a special place in my heart,” Fry said in 2010 before UNT’s final game at the venue. “We filled [the stands] back then when I was there, even though it wasn’t very big.”

UNT had begun to lay the groundwork to replace Fouts Field during what is considered to be the last great era in the venue’s history in the early 2000s, when the Mean Green won four straight Sun Belt Conference titles from 2001-04. The facility had begun to deteriorate at that point and is now in the midst of a slow retirement.

UNT’s football program moved out of Fouts Field and began playing in Apogee Stadium in 2011. The Fouts Field demolition project remains on schedule for an Aug. 26 completion, which will be just in time for student athletes to return to campus, said Eric Capper, senior associate director of athletics. The school’s track program will continue to use the venue until a new track facility is built near the Mean Green Athletic Center.

The university and community are justifiably proud of Apogee Stadium, and we are certain that UNT teams and students will go on to great glory there.

But like we said, the memories of Fouts Field continue to flow.

We were pleased to learn that work crews were trying to save the historic stone panels on the east concourse. The 25-square-foot panels are one of the signature details of the venue. Crews will cut around the panels and pull them from the rest of the concourse, said Don Lynch, director of the UNT system facilities administration.

No doubt there will be other mementos retained as the demolition continues, and those items will be valuable additions to UNT’s historical collection and will serve as lasting tributes to the history of Fouts Field and the players and coaches who were part of it.

We will continue to watch as Fouts Field fades from view, but we won’t be seeing the crews as they go about their work.

We’ll be reliving our memories, and those will never fade.