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1st inning for Greensboro stadium project


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1st inning for stadium project


By Bill Hass Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO -- Images of a Greensboro Bats baseball game being played in a new downtown stadium don't come easily on a cold, wintry day in mid-February.

Yet, if all goes well, a finished stadium will occupy the site bordered by Eugene, Bellemeade and Edgeworth streets by this time next year.

The Bats will play their final season at 78-year-old War Memorial Stadium, then move into the privately funded $15 million facility in time for the opening of the South Atlantic League season in April 2005.

A passer-by with sharp eyes can see the signs of activity inside the fencing. The old grocery store that later served as an office annex has been demolished.

A large hole has been excavated along Edgeworth where the locker rooms will sit under the stands along the third base line.

The U-shaped Burlington Industries building, which in recent years housed offices for Guilford County's health and social services departments, has been reduced to an L.

A dark green structure that eventually will be the Bats' maintenance building on Eugene Street now serves as the offices for the two contractors, Samet Corp. and Barton Malow, operating as a joint venture.

A three-man management team has been on site since early January. Mike Sears of Samet is the project manager, Landry Shore of Samet is the assistant and Gary Stafford of Barton Malow is the superintendent.

One of the major tasks the team faces is the demolition of the Burlington Industries building. It's being done from the inside out, gutting the interior and removing the asbestos that served as insulation for pipes in the walls.

The building had three wings; the one dubbed the "west wing," the hardest to see from the street, is already down. Sears said a piece of heavy equipment armed with a hydraulic claw "grabs a wall, pulls it down and chews it up."

Interior work is complete on the demolition of the south wing, which faces Bellemeade, and is in progress on the east wing facing Eugene.

Sears said it will take three to four more weeks for those sections to come down. When demolition is complete, work on the excavation phase can be finished.

The stadium will have a capacity of more than 6,000, with about 5,700 permanent seats. To create the seating bowl, the site will be graded and the level of a large knoll will be reduced by 15 feet.

"People won't notice much difference on a daily basis," Sears said, "but they will on a week-to-week basis."

Barring surprises of contaminated soil or boulders, the grading should be completed in mid to late May. Next comes delivery of the steel, followed quickly by the stadium beginning to rise from the ground.

"Once the excavation is completed and we get (the structure rising) out of the dirt, then I'll be excited," said architect Ken Mayer of Moser Mayer Phoenix.

Mayer said decisions are being made on the type of exterior brick that will be used and the kind of seats that will go inside the stadium. Plans for the scoreboard, a structure that will be 66 feet high and 48 feet wide, have been approved.

Sears said he has built all kinds of commercial, industrial and recreational facilities, but this is his first baseball stadium. Stafford has worked on several stadiums, most recently a 10,000-seat facility in Jacksonville, Fla. They agree a stadium presents unique challenges.

"There are more elements than a typical building," Sears said. "You have areas for cooking, eating, seating, merchandising, scoreboard, locker rooms, the grandstand, playground, sound system and field lighting. The skyboxes are almost like hotel rooms.

"I get a charge out of it. I'm extremely excited and truly blessed to be involved. The learning experience is phenomenal."

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