Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More Big News

I don't often miss big news (I hope) but I fanned on this one until a trusty emailer alerted me to something around lunchtime today, ironically while I was in the shadows of Memorial Field.

Buried in a story about decisions by the Dartmouth trustees in Sunday's local paper was this (italics are mine):
"The Trustees also OK'd Dartmouth's 2015 fiscal year operating budget of $1 billion, and approved a capital budget of $54 million to pay for projects including replacement of the West stands at Memorial Field and renovation of Alumni Gym."
Memorial Field's home stands had been a week away from coming down at the conclusion of the 2008 season when the economic downturn stopped the project cold. Find a story about that here. (For more about the postponement of the project, including photos, check out the Dartmo site.)

The mention in Sunday's newspaper doesn't give a timeframe for the upcoming work, but given that the original timetable for replacing the stands required demolition at season's end in order to play on Memorial Field the next fall, the educated guess here is that work will begin soon after the coming season ends, with the goal of having the new stands ready for the start of the 2015 season.

UPDATE: Dartmouth's release confirms the stands are slated to be in use for the 2015 campaign.

The project, as explained five years ago, included preserving the 91-year-old arched brick stadium facade while replacing everything behind it.

Here's a look at that facade in a wonderful painting by Hanover artist Doug Henry:

Here's a plaque on the stadium wall that is a reminder why preserving the facade is so important:

And here's a look at the West Stands during one of the recent efforts at cleaning them up. The picture is probably a bit unfair, but suffice it to say that apart from whatever structural and ADA shortcomings the stands have, they also have a very tired, Eastern bloc look:

The need for something to be done was widely recognized. This is from an October story in the local daily:
“I’m in meetings all the time where the west stands come up and everyone’s eyes glaze over, because no one has the money,” (Dartmouth Athletic Director Harry) Sheehy said. “But my sense is that in the next year or two, we’re going to get to a critical point and the institution is going to have to do something. 
“I said to (new Dartmouth President) Phil (Hanlon) the first time I met him in my office that there are two possible embarrassments for you out there. One is the west stands and the other is the bridge at the (Hanover Country Club)."
Here are the stands on a better day:

Thinking back about the project, I recall hearing that wide aisles to accommodate much-needed railings, wider walkways, expanded handicapped seating in different areas of the stands and an elevator to a new press box will contribute to what I thought was a surprising drop in the capacity for the home stands. Memorial Field currently seats 13,000.

Stay tuned for more.