The stadium is expected to be completed the following May, in time for the 2015 graduation ceremony, traditionally held on the Northcutt field.
The Marietta school board on Nov. 19 approved a $300,000 contract for renovation designs by Atlanta-based Gardner, Spencer, Smith, Tench & Jarbeau.
Architect Joe Gardner said the design would preserve Northcutt’s historic character and traditions, enhance the Friday night game experience and address team, band and crowd movement.
The district expects to collect about $43 million in the 1 percent sales tax between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2018 for SPLOST IV.
The list of SPLOST IV projects includes the Northcutt Stadium renovations, with a budget of $6.5 million. Extra funds could be pulled from the district’s building fund, according to Marietta school board Chairman Randy Weiner, who has a finance degree from Kennesaw State University.
Construction on the stadium would begin a year from now in November after the last home game. Adjustments would be made to the Blue Devil’s football schedule, with the last games of the season played away.
Garner told the Marietta school board that “seven months is tight … so the important thing is, we need to get decisions made, designs completed and pricing done.”
One of the biggest decisions, at least based on the discussion by the school board members, is the new surfacing of the field.
All 16 high school football fields in the Cobb School District have recently been installed with artificial turf, which accommodates a year-round use of the fields with lacrosse, soccer and track and field.
The stadium, which hosts the Marietta High School home football games, lies directly west of Marietta Middle School, at the corner of Winn Street and Polk Street.
Board Chairman Randy Weiner said Northcutt stadium has far less use at its Marietta Middle School location, especially since Marietta High School has three practice fields and a soccer stadium with a track on its campus.
Weiner, who graduated from Marietta High School in 1985, added that he wants to keep grass at Northcutt Stadium for the historical integrity.
“In my opinion, there is no other way to destroy that than using synthetic turf,” Weiner said.
Board member Tony Fasola said comments from his constituents are overwhelmingly in favor of grass. He added that as far as expense, “it is a draw.”
“There will be maintenance cost (for grass), but you know, in eight years, you will be replacing the turf,” Fasola said.
The older alumni, the young players
In 1940, Northcutt Stadium was built as a public works project for $25,000. Now an entire overhaul is being called for by residents, which includes replacing the electrical system and all the plumbing, expanding the parking lot for more spaces, widening the playing field and building new stands for extra, quality seating.
Tootie Berniard is president of a parent and volunteer organization, the Touchdown Club, which helps to support the Blue Devil football program by raising funds to provide training equipment, like practice tackling dummies.
Berniard, who moved to Marietta from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, has been with the Touchdown Club for six years and her son, Makia, plays on the Blue Devil football team.
Berniard’s son is a junior this season, which means he will not play on the new field.
“He is a little sad he won’t be playing in the new stadium. But at the same time, he is happy to be the last of the legacy,” Berniard said.
During the week Berniard is a secretary for the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy, but on game nights she helps in the Northcutt Stadium concession stand.
According to preliminary plans, the existing concession stand area would be removed and a new plaza or mezzanine would be built to give better flow of spectator traffic.
Berniard said she is excited about the upgrades, and hopes it means the concession cooks will no longer have to grill outside.