Phillip Williams

GILMER — The $1.8 million renovation of Buckeye Stadium is “progressing well” without major problems, the project manager told the Gilmer ISD board Monday night.

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 graduation ceremonies in June, although the new two-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, GISD superintendent Rick Albritton said. Many seats will have rail backs.

The project was undertaken partly because of 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.

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 razed one, and will seat 38 persons, 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.

Bishop also said the new home side bleachers, which have largely been installed, will offer “phenomenal” handicap access.

Many of the orange reserved chairs 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, he added.

Thacker/Davis Architects, Inc. of Longview is architect for the project.

Still to be determined is the ticklish issue of how the highly coveted orange reserve seats will be sold. With the Gilmer Buckeyes having reached four state championship games since 2004, winning two, the waiting list for such seats has been long.

School board President Jeff Rash said the board might need 4-to-6 hours at a future meeting to “hash this out.”

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