Brent Bishop of WRL General Contractors, Ltd. of Flint, which is construction manager for the renovation, said the overall project is on track to use the stadium for Gilmer High School graduation ceremonies in June, although the new 2-story press box won’t be completed until early or mid-summer.
The stadium’s home side total seating is being expanded from its past 1,800 to slightly more than 2,900, and the number of orange chairback seats there is being enlarged from the past 600 to about 1,000, said School Supt. Rick Albritton. Many seats will have rail backs.
The project was undertaken partly due to deteriorating concrete under the old home side stands. All the work is on the home side.
Bleachers will rise much higher than before, and Bishop said they will run into the end zone after stopping at the 10-yard-line in the past. “Every seat has a good view” now, said Bishop, a 1994 Gilmer High graduate who is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Bishop.
The stadium’s approximately 50-year-old one-story press box was demolished sometime after the project began in November. The new one will contain 2,200 square feet, about 700 more than the former one, and will seat 38, Albritton said.
The press box’s bottom floor will contain rest rooms, and the facility will have an elevator as well as “fire-ready” stairs. In addition, Bishop said work on the press box itself at the 51-year-old stadium is progressing “faster than I thought” it would.
He further said the new home side bleachers, which have largely been installed, will offer “phenomenal” handicap access.
Many of the orange chairs for season ticket holders have been installed, and metal wall panels for the press box are scheduled for installation in about a week, he said. Hanging of drywall has started in the interior, Bishop added.
Thacker/Davis Architects, Inc. of Longview is architect for the renovation.
Still to be determined is the ticklish issue of how the highly coveted orange seats will be sold. With the Gilmer Buckeyes having reached four state championship games since 2004, winning two, a lengthy waiting list for the seats has developed.
School board President Jeff Rash said the board might need 4-6 hours at a future meeting to “hash this out.” Board members informally indicated they wanted to hold a work day on the matter.
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