UNION COUNTY — The first game of the 2018 Football Season will be played Friday, Aug. 17 at the Union County Stadium and those in attendance will see the results of the ongoing $1.3 million stadium improvement project.
In October 2017, Union County Supervisor Frank Hart announced the $1.3 million stadium improvement project 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 of Union is providing up to $150,000 in infrastructure upgrades including water, sewer, gas, and electricity.
The three-phase Union County Stadium Improvement Plan is a joint effort by the county, the school district, and the city to 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.
So how far along is the project?
The answer to that question was provided by Hart in a statement released Thursday on the progress of the improvement project. In his update, Hart said that while the project is not yet completed, much has been accomplished and the stadium will be ready for the start of the season.
“We are very excited about our improvement project for Union County Stadium,” Hart said. “Phase I of our stadium improvements are well underway. While all of the work will not be completed by our first home game on August 17, much of the project will be completed and we will certainly be ready to play football.”
Hart said that plans are for a number of improvements to be completed by Aug. 17.
“Accessibility improvements on the home stands will be completed with improved steps and new railing,” Hart said. “In addition, the new handicap accessible area behind the home stands will be completed. We are targeting that the new concession building with ADA bathrooms will be open by the first game.
“Our new field house will not be completed by the first game as we are finishing out the mechanical and electrical work inside the building,” he said. “Patrons will also notice new paint on the facility and upgrades to the press box which really improve the exterior look of the facility.”
Hart said that “all Phase I improvements will be completed by homecoming game” and that “after we finish the season, we will begin work on Phase II improvements which will include new ticket booths, new fencing, and additional improvements.”
The stadium improvement project “has been a great project,” which Hart said “was only possible through the cooperative effort of the Union County School Board, Union County, and the City of Union. When this project is finished, we will have a facility which we can be proud of!”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.