Nashoba Stadium on Time and on Budget
By Ellen Oliver
The new Nashoba Stadium opened to rave reviews according to Nashoba District Facilities Manager Bill Cleary and Athletic Director Tania Rich. “The kids love playing on the field,” said Rich. “We’re happy with how it looks and how fast it was put in.”
The first phase of the $2.2M project is essentially complete with less than two weeks of site work to be completed, including painting the track that circles the new turf field. “On the whole, we are done one month ahead of time. The track is just about finished and the tennis courts are started,” said Rich. Cleary added praise for the contractor D.W. White. “They worked extremely hard and put in extra work to make it look even better. It was a great experience,” he said.
After the home football opener on September 7, the first time the new stadium was tested with large crowds, Cleary said the feedback was positive, although he did acknowledge that crowd management was different now that the visitor’s stands have been removed.
“We wanted a field that is truly multisport, so the area is wider,” he explained. “With the Tennessee gas pipeline easement, we had to move the visitor’s stands.”
Cleary and Rich both want to see how the expanded area is used before making additional improvements. “It was always our plan to do more, but we wanted to see how the first season goes,” said Cleary. “We didn’t want to throw a lot of money on stands if the crowding can be resolved with signage, moving of fans. Tania and I are working on that for the next home game.”
Cleary acknowledged that future plans could add more seating, but the future big item is the upgrade of the concession stands. “Phase two will include the balance of the site work and upgrading the concession stand,” said Cleary, saying that about $200,000 of the $2.2M has been left for those projects. Cleary said phase two will go out to bid to building contractors since the bulk of the work will be determining where to locate the new concessions, as well as what will be inside. “Depending on what we can do with our budget, we want to get bathrooms, kitchen, a prep area, and storage,” said Cleary.
With the former visitor’s stands now overlooking the upper field, the areas behind those stands were flattened, allowing more useable space. “We were able to add another field,” said Cleary. “It was built into this process how to rest our fields.” The new field areas have been hydro seeded and await the white lines for spring.
The metal stands that once housed fans of the opposing team, now reside across the school property edging the upper field where many soccer and lacrosse games are played. “We were able to create what we call the ‘mini-stadium’ up above,” said Cleary, referring to the field near the far side of the student parking lot.
“The mini stadium has been a nice surprise to us. What a nice little area,” he said. Cleary added that the project also allowed the school to upgrade some of their track and field equipment, as well as adding a new scoreboard, relocated to the far corner on the same end of the field to aid in viewing. Cleary said the upgraded scoreboard and new lights bring energy savings in addition to serving their immediate purpose. Another nice use of the field will come during the school day. “We’re able to use it as a field for P.E.,” said Cleary. “Before, they had to stay off the field.”
As the project is finished, Rich has been juggling team schedules, booking the new turf field as often as she can, day and night. Rich said that all of the fall teams will have at least one night game under the lights. “In the fall, boys’ and girls’ soccer, field hockey will be able to use the field, and in the spring, lacrosse will use the field. Everyone will have equal opportunity to play at night,” said Rich, adding that field hockey and lacrosse haven’t been able to have home night games in prior seasons.
The investment in the track project had the goal of reducing athlete injuries by providing more consistent playing surfaces and bringing in additional revenue through the school’s ability to host of district and league events. In the past, Nashoba’s facilities didn’t meet MIAA requirements for hosting. But overall, the best feedback comes from the students. “The kids are enjoying it,” said Cleary. “That’s the most important.”