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New stadium's future looking up

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New stadium's future looking up

5-19-04

By Bill Hass, Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO -- In two weeks, things will go vertical at the construction site for a downtown baseball stadium.

On June 1, the first shipment of steel will arrive at the site, which is bounded by Eugene, Bellemeade and Edgeworth streets. A crane will be assembled that day and start setting the first columns the next day.

By the end of that week, the skeleton of the three-story stadium should begin to take form in a visible way.

"That's the pivotal point of any construction job," said architect Ken Mayer of Moser Mayer Phoenix. "When you start going vertical, people really begin to notice."

The $15.5 million stadium, funded by Downtown Greensboro Renaissance LLC, a subsidiary of the Bryan Foundation, will be home to the minor-league Greensboro Bats. It is scheduled to be ready for the opening of the South Atlantic League season in April 2005.

The Bats are playing their final season at 78-year-old Memorial Stadium.

Project manager Mike Sears of Samet Corp. said the first steel to be set will be down the left-field line. The work will proceed parallel to Edgeworth to the corner of Bellemeade, where the ticket windows will be located. After a month, about half the structure should be completed.

When the next steel shipment arrives around July 1, the crane will move and work will continue for another month toward Eugene. By the time all the steel is in place at the end of July, 400 tons will have been used.

The area will be humming with activity when the steel arrives. Sears said the project has averaged about 60 workers per day to this point. That will increase to about 150 workers when the steel is going up.

In January, when Sears came on site, the property was occupied by an old office that was once headquarters for Burlington Industries. The landscape has changed dramatically.

Excavation and grading are nearly complete. Along Edgeworth, the walls of the basement are up and the concrete slab has been poured inside them. The area will include the home and visitors' locker rooms, batting cages and other facilities.

The walls of the tunnel where players will enter and exit the field also have been poured.

A 19-foot concrete wall has gone up in the northwest corner of the site. The two-story Grand Stand, a popular area with a bar, will be built just past that point. The top of the wall is at concourse level.

The wall, which will be padded to a height of 8 feet to protect players, will be in foul territory down the left-field line. A hole next to the end of the wall marks the location of the foul pole.

Along the third-base side of the playing field, concrete has been poured for the 60-foot dugout that the home team will use. Work has started on the visitors' dugout.

The exact spot of home plate has been marked because it serves as the benchmark for all the survey work in the stadium.

"Everything is laid out off of home plate," Sears said.

Along Bellemeade, where the main entrance will be located, four concrete piers have been set to form the three passageways where fans will walk up steps to the gate.

All things considered, Sears said construction is where it should be.

"We're tickled with where we are schedule-wise," he said. "We're ahead in some and lagging a little in others.

"It has been a blessed, smooth ride so far, with good planning and good team players. Everyone has approached it with a win-win attitude. Instead of focusing on obstacles, they look for solutions."

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