Memorial Field renovations to boost safety of west stands

by Miguel Pena | 3/25/14 7:34pm

The west stands will undergo roughly $10.5 million in renovations next year.
by Trevelyan Wing / Trevelyan Wing

The Alumni Gym and Memorial Field’s west stands will undergo significant renovations in the coming year, financed by the 2014-2015 $54 million capital budget approved at the Board of Trustees’s March 8 meeting.

The west stands will undergo roughly $10.5 million in renovations next year.

Despite several maintenance projects, Memorial Stadium, built in 1923, has slowly deteriorated due to its stands’ concrete shell structure.

By 2006, a structural engineering analysis had recommended that the College replace the old benches.

“[The stands] are really nearing the end of their life expectancy,” project management director MatthewPurcell said. “Eighty-five years is long enough for a building like that.”

The new stands will have steps of equal heights, reducing the risk of falling. The project will also replace the seating area and press box.

The project is expected to start in November and end by September 2015, so as not to interfere with next year’s football season.

Renovation was originally going to start in November 2008, but the project was postponed due to financial concerns in the wake of the recession.

The new stands will add 262 seats with backs, but the total seat capacity will be reduced, for a total of 4,788 seats. The stands will comprise 4,500 bench seats and 26 handicap accessible seats.

Football player Will Konstant ’16, a defensive back, said he hopes the project will encourage more students and alumni to attend football games. The renovations will be attractive to prospective recruits, he said, helping to boost the team’s performance and the chances of winning Ivy League championships.

“The new west stands will bring a new atmosphere and a better perception of football in the region,” quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 said.

When recruits decide which college to attend and play for, they look at the stadium, the weight rooms and overall athletic facilities, wide receiver Victor Williams ’16 said. He added, however, that he believes students will be more attracted to wins during the season than to new stands.

Students interviewed said that the renovation may attract more fans to games.

The renovations may also improve public perceptions of the College and its athletic programs, David Cordero ’16 said.

“High quality facilities tend to show a great side of the College and it shows that the College values sports, athletes and their contribution to campus,” he said.

The roof over the Karl Michael Pool in Alumni Gym is currently being renovated and is slated for completion by fall 2014, Purcell said. Rising water vapor had saturated the dry wall and compromised the roof’s integrity, he said, and nets were placed under the pool’s ceiling as a precaution.

The roof’s deficiencies were discovered during a project that began during the mid-2000s, which replaced the roof’s mechanical systems and changed the ceiling from slate to metal. These repairs, however, have proved insufficient.

Routine inspections are performed to ensure there is no immediate ceiling failure, he added.

The pool will remain closed until the fall while renovators drain it, build scaffolds and restore the roof, but the Spaulding Pool will remain open, allowing graduating seniors to complete the required 50-yard swim test.

Patrick O’Hern, who is overseeing the Karl Michael Pool renovations, was not available for comment by press time.