FORT HOOD, Texas (Dec. 1, 2011) -- When Fort Hood opens its new stadium in late summer or early fall next year, it will have an extra addition not featured on the old stadium: a permanent stage for festivals and performances.

That stage, which will cost $750,000, is being funded mostly by money earned by the installation from the Army Communities of Excellence program. In 2010, Fort Hood earned $500,000 for its ACOE Silver Award.

"We needed to spend that money where the entire community can enjoy and benefit from it," Col. Mark Freitag, Fort Hood Garrison commander, said of the stage addition to the stadium project. "The stage is a perfect fit."

The overall cost of the new stadium project is $13.5 million, according to Brian Dosa, director of Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works.

"Fort Hood has always considered the stage an integral part of the new Hood Stadium," he said, "to facilitate unit, Family and community events. We anticipate the stage being used for concerts, community events like Freedom Fest and Earth Fest, deployment and redeployment ceremonies, as well as military school graduations."

Dosa said the new stadium will offer easy access from Highway 190, ample parking, restrooms and even concession facilities. The stage, likewise, will be state-of-the-art, he said.

"The stage will be a state-of-the-art facility with changing rooms and restrooms, providing the lighting and sound system support for professional concerts and other events," Dosa said, noting that the stage is scheduled to be completed in fall 2012.

Each year, the Army Communities of Excellence, or ACOE, program recognizes Army installations for their efforts in supporting Soldiers and their families. Three installations are selected for Bronze Awards, two receive Silver Awards and one earns the top Gold Award. The 2010 Silver Award was the first for Fort Hood in 12 years, said Jim Bondi, director of the installation's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office.

"Twelve years was a long drought," Bondi, whose office oversees the ACOE program here, said. "But we turned that around."

In May, Fort Hood received an ACOE Bronze Award for 2011. With that award came more money for the installation.

"Now, we've got to figure out what we will do with the $250,000 we won in last year's competition," Freitag said.

Fort Hood submitted its ACOE entry for the 2012 competition earlier this month, Bondi said, noting that each competition year features installation efforts and improvements conducted in the previous year. The ACOE packet was sent to the Installation Management Command for judging at the regional level.

"We have a very clear IMCOM Campaign Plan, laid out in six lines of effort," Bondi said. "We're evaluated on how well we've supported those six lines of effort."

Part of the ACOE packet, prepared by management analysts in PAIO, is an "exemplary practices" category. This year, Bondi said, the installation's re-energized Sponsorship Program is featured. The strength of Fort Hood's two previous winning entries was the collective effort of all agencies and organizations providing installation support to Soldiers and their Families.

"It's a collective effort," Robert Easter, a management analyst in PAIO and project manager of Fort Hood's ACOE program, said. "Everyone has a role in seeing that the plan is successfully executed."

Part of the ACOE packet is an employee assessment survey, Easter said. While most installations get a 60-percent return on these assessments, Fort Hood surpassed 80 percent this year, indicating the level of support from throughout the work force.

Though monetary amounts for winning entries have yet to be announced for the 2012 ACOE program, Bondi said he expects Fort Hood to be "very competitive" again, noting that it's an installation-wide effort that leads to ACOE awards.

"When the stage is built (in 2012), we'll put a plaque on it," Bondi added, "dedicating it to Soldiers, employees and families of Fort Hood."