Griffiths on track for fall completion
About $8.5 million in upgrades and new construction at Griffiths Stadium is proceeding on a schedule that will see most of the work completed by the start of the Huskie football season in the fall.
Rick Kalenchuk, project manager with Facilities Management Division (FMD), said while it’s not the most expensive aspect of the project, preparing the playing field for the installation of artificial turf has been the biggest, and most visible, undertaking so far.
The first step was removing the existing turf and excavating four feet of dirt. The trick was not to disturb the existing running track around the outside which is equipped with weeping tile, an important component of the field’s drainage system, he said. The giant hole was then backfilled with a thick layer of gravel that was carefully spread, sloped and compacted using road building equipment, a process “that’s similar to what you see when they’re building highways.”
In early July, Defargo Sports Installations of Montreal will arrive on site to install the new turf – polyethylene blades of artificial grass set in a two-inch layer of fine granules of rubber mixed with sand. Kalenchuk said Defargo will bring its own work crew for the job, which is expected to take at least a couple of weeks. Coloured turf will be used to create permanent logos at various spots on the field. The cost, he said, is about $550,000 for the turf; excavation and backfill is extra.
The earth removed from the field has been used to build up the areas on the north and east sides of stadium. Increasing the elevation was necessary to ensure proper drainage for a new $750,000 washroom and concession facility already under construction in the northeast corner.
On the east side of the field, work is underway on the foundations and stairs for 4000 new aluminum seats. Kalenchuk the $600,000 worth of new permanent seating will be shipped from the supplier in Texas and installed in August.
The project’s showpiece will be the new $1.2 million Huskie clubhouse at the northwest corner of the stadium. Kalenchuk said building, a gift from Ron and Jane Graham through the University’s Thinking the World of Our Future capital campaign, will include year-round offices and meeting rooms as well as the team locker room. That project should be done by the start of August, in time for Huskie training camp, he said.
All of the changes to Griffiths Stadium will be paid for through donations from individuals and corporations.
The old clubhouse in the southwest corner will undergo minor renovations to create more space for visiting teams, and two new soccer dressing rooms will be built under the existing west-side stands. The throwing areas for sports like discus and javelin will also be relocated to the southeast corner of the stadium area, and the press box will be expanded to almost double its current size.
To fulfill the requirements for hosting the 2006 Vanier Cup in November, lighting will be installed in the stadium. To finish off the project, the park will get a new $100,000 sound system.