Gilmer set to renovate football stadium


Phillip Williams

GILMER — Gilmer ISD trustees Monday night approved hiring WRL General Contractors, Ltd. of Flint as construction manager for the estimated $1.686 million major renovation of Buckeye Stadium.

Phil Thacker of the Longview architectural firm of Thacker/Davis Architects, Inc., presented a site plan for the project, which he said will involve adding more than 750 seats on the home side of the 50-year-old stadium, along with erecting a two-story press box.

Thacker said he thought work would begin Nov. 4, and that it is scheduled for completion by graduation in May or June of 2013.

GISD Superintendent Rick Albritton said the work is needed because concrete put in place at the stadium in 1962 is deteriorating. And as seats break, installing replacement seats is very difficult, he said.

In addition, Albritton said, the project should reduce security costs and create “a much safer environment” at football games.

The improvements are also aimed at enlarging home-side seating since 300-400 spectators are now standing at football games, Albritton said. Fans will have to be seated to see the game after the renovation, he said.

Plans call for raising the total number of home-side seats from the current 2,172 —which includes 608 seats with chair backs — to 2,925, some 903 of which would have chair backs, Thacker said.

The 16 rows of stands will be expanded to 22, leaving existing concrete in place, he said. The new bleachers will “extend almost goal-line to goal-line,” and “be much steeper than what you have,” Thacker told trustees.

The current press box will be demolished to erect one containing about 1,400 square feet per floor, and rest rooms on the lower level. An elevator will be included in the press box to meet legal requirements for accommodating the handicapped.

Thacker said the project is out for bids and that he plans to present them at the next school board meeting.

Albritton said the estimated $1.686 million cost is based on Thacker’s estimate, but GISD officials “hope the bids come in better than this.” The work will be confined to the stadium’s home side.

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