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 2-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.
School Supt. Rick Albritton said the work is needed because concrete put in place at the stadium in 1962 is deteriorating. As seats break, he said, installing replacement seats is very difficult.
“The structure itself is deteriorating,” said Albritton. In addition, he 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 to 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.
The board approved using WRL as construction manager in lieu of hiring one contractor for the project. WRL Gen. Mgr. David Detten said his firm has been involved in four other projects involving either building or renovating stadiums, and that it has worked with architect Thacker for probably 25 years or so.
Detten told trustees his firm puts together bid packages, solicits bids from subcontractors, and evaluates the bids. “Then we come back to the board and say we guarantee we will do this job for X number of dollars,” he explained.
The firm has a performance bond, he said. He noted that five subcontractors went out on WRL during the building of the current Gilmer Elementary School a few years ago, and that his firm paid $700,000 out of its pocket as a result.
Plans for the stadium project include increasing the total number of home-side seats from the current 2,172, which includes 608 orange seats with chair backs, to 2,925, some 903 of which will have chair backs, Thacker said.
Some 200 persons are on the waiting list to obtain chair seats, Albritton noted. With the Gilmer Buckeyes having won two state football championships and having reached the playoffs annually in the past 11 seasons, fan attendance at games is high.
The 16 rows of home-side stands will be expanded to 22, leaving existing concrete in place, Thacker said. The new bleachers will “extend almost goal line to goal line,” and “be much steeper than what you have,” he told the board.
Fans will enter from underneath the bleachers.
The current press box—which was the stadium’s original press box but was remodeled around 2001—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 to meet legal requirements for accommodating the handicapped.
Plans also call for handicapped seating and expanded handicapped parking.
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.