Seats, press box points to settle for Northcutt
by Haisten Willis
May 03, 2014 04:00 AM | 2054 views | 2 2 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Randy Weiner
Randy Weiner
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MARIETTA — Plans for a renovated Northcutt Stadium are taking shape as the Marietta school board debated Friday what it hopes to see after spending a projected $10 million on the facility.

The board is leaning toward a plan that calls for the visitor’s side to be torn down and rebuilt. That side will double in capacity and also feature concessions stands and a new visitor’s locker room.

The first eight rows of the home side and the True Blue building would also be torn down to make the field wider. The old True Blue building space will be left an open plaza, which architect David Tench said could be turned into a “Hall of Fame Plaza” filled with plaques.

To make up for the loss of seats, up to 18 rows of aluminum seats will be added to the top of the stadium, capped by a two-story press box.

There are concerns about the look of the aluminum, but Tench said all of the seats will be aluminum in an effort to blend the look between the top and bottom of the home side.

The number of seats was a big issue Friday. To host semifinal-round playoff games, the stadium would have to have 6,000 24-inch-wide seats.

But current capacity is 5,300 and adding 18 new rows of seats would cost $1.2 million, according to school board Chairman Randy Weiner.

Adding no seats at all would reduce the stadium’s capacity to well below what it is now. Some board members also didn’t think a tiny home side with a massive press box was a good idea.

“It would look stupid,” said board member Jill Mutimer. “The press box would be down on your head.”

To compromise, the board may decide to add between 11 and 14 rows instead. This would put the capacity at just under 6,000. If Marietta High School hosts a semifinal playoff game temporary bleachers could make up the difference.

The numbers are far from final but slashing off the top couple of rows could save between $200,000 and $400,000.

Danny Smith, executive director of support for Marietta schools, said an average game draws 3,000 to the stadium.

Removing the front eight rows of seats will also leave a 10-foot wall between the playing field and the first row of seats. Weiner was reassured about the size of the wall after being shown a similar-sized wall at the University of Richmond’s football stadium that he felt did not look out of place.

The size of the press box also was discussed. The general consensus was that a two-story, 80-foot by 20-foot press box would be best. The bottom floor would be a sort of event hall and would serve a lot of the functions of the current True Blue building.

For about $200,000 extra, the school board could upgrade the playing surface to a collegiate-level field, which would involve deeper sand under the field and better drainage. School board member Tom Cheater felt that might be overdoing it.

“We’re getting into a price range that’s like, ‘wow,’” he said. “$400,000 for grass?”

Mutimer joked that maybe the board could settle for a junior college field instead.

History of the stadium

Northcutt Stadium is so old, it’s outlasted even the high school that was attached to it. Marietta High School moved to a new location in 2001, and the stadium now sits on the campus of Marietta Middle School.

The new high school was supposed to cost $35 million but went more than $20 million over budget. Several school board members were ousted in the aftermath of the controversy. The current board hopes to avoid a similar situation this time around.

Voters approved the stadium renovation as part of a 1 percent sales tax for school construction projects expected to bring in $55 million over the next four years. The project is supposed to break ground after the last game of the 2014 football season and be finished in time for the 2015 season.

The first $6.5 million of the project will be covered by sales taxes. Beyond that, other sources such as the building fund, which sits at $4.1 million right now, could be used.

With the board slowly carving out a consensus, the next meeting about the stadium is expected to come in July.

Comments
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Are you nuts?
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May 03, 2014
The football stadium is old and outdated. That isn't the problem. The problem is parking in that area, and they aren't doing anything about that issue. They need to move the stadium to the high school.
Harvey Willus
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May 03, 2014
I've never had a problem parking around Northcutt. That's because so many side streets surround the stadium. I typically park on Polk, close to West Side Elementary and take the short walk up. There are no side streets around MHS and with so many functions going on each night at MHS, parking would be an issue there.
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