UNION COUNTY — The first phase of the $1.3 million Union County Stadium Improvement Plan is under way and should be completed by the end of August.
Announced in 2017, the Union County Stadium Improvement Plan is a joint effort by Union County, the Union County School District, and the City of Union make improvements to the half-century old stadium to address the facility’s most pressing needs. Those pressing needs are:
• Addressing safety issues.
• Addressing accessibility issues to bring the stadium closer into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• Construction of a field house.
The stadium was built in the 1960s and a recent engineering study reached the following conclusions about the facility:
• It does not comply with all aspects of the current 2006 IBC Code.
• It does not comply with the Americans for Disability Act or current ANSI regulations.
• Construction types required for the Department of Education does not comply in all buildings.
• Restroom facilities currently on site do not meet the fixture counts required by the Department of Education for a stadium facility.
• As stated in the structural evaluation additional testing needs to be conducted on the home bleachers to assure the foundation supporting of the double tee bleachers has no structural issues due to water collection under the stands.
The report also states that the stands on the south end of the baseball field are not safe for spectator use and need to be demolished.
The $1.3 million improvement project was announced in October 2017 by Union County Supervisor Frank Hart following a meeting with the Union County Board of School Trustees. For its part, the county is paying the $1.3 million cost of the project upfront while the district will pay $130,000 a year to the county for five years or 50 percent of the project cost. The city is providing up to $150,000 in infrastructure upgrades including water, sewer, gas, and electricity.
On Thursday, Hart provided an update on the improvement project which consists of three phases. Hart said that Phase I is well under way and on track to be completed as scheduled.
“Phase I is under way and currently they are in the process of adding the handicapped accessible platform behind the home bleachers as well as widening the aisles in the home bleachers and adding a half-step on each step of the bleachers,” Hart said. “Construction has also begun on the field house.
“The last word I got from the contractor, Kingsmore Construction, is Phase I should all be done by the end of August,” he said. “So right now it looks like we are on schedule.”
When Phase I is completed, the home stands will much improved ADA accessibility; there will be a new concession building and a new field house, both of them with ADA compliant restrooms; all existing buildings will have been painted; the area behind the stands will have been repaved; there will be new water supply lines for the facility, both upper and lower. There will also be modifications to the roof of the press box though this may have to be done in Phase II.
Hart said that Phase II will not get under way until after football season, but is projected to be completed by May 2019.
When Phase II is completed there will be two new ticket booths with ADA compliant family restrooms and a new, black chain link fence with brick columns along the front of the stadium.
Phase III will involve the demolition of the existing baseball stands; realignment of the visitor and fairground entrance and construction of a new multipurpose ticket booth; and visitor side enhancements. The beginning of this phase of the project will be determined based on funding.
Hart said he is quite happy with the way the project is going and how the county, the district, and the city are working togeteher to make it happen.
“I am very excited that we have a project under way to make some much needed improvements to our stadium facility,” Hart said. “This project is a great example of what we can achieve when we are all working together toward a common goal.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.