The wrecking ball hasn’t smashed into Putnam Stadium yet, but it may not be long now.
The demolition bid is being advertised with a bid expected to be awarded after a mandatory three-week waiting period about the middle of February.
While on the surface it seems as if nothing has been done since it was announced the 75-year-old stadium would be refurbished, the wheels have been in motion for months, said Ashland School Superintendent Steve Gilmore. He said he has been in constant contact with architects and the state education department in Frankfort to get the project moving.
“The No. 1 thing, and the reason we want to get this stadium done, is for safety,” Gilmore said. “That’s exactly what the Department of Education is looking at. We’re dealing with school facilities that will be used by students, parents and staff, and it is totally different than putting up a commericial business. There are so many hoops you have to go through.”
Safety concerns at Putnam Stadium have been tops on Gilmore’s agenda since the beginning.
“You want to make sure it is done appropriately and in a safe manner,” he said. “A lot of people have to look at it over and over again.”
The demolition has been approved and bidding on the project begins today. That puts the three-week target at about Feb. 13 when the school board can choose a construction company to start that process.
In the meantime, Gilmore and finance director Tim Walter have been meeting and talking with bleacher companies about the next step after deconstruction.
There has been a lot of “fine-tuning,” Gilmore said, such as how many VIP chairbacks will be needed and the thickness of the maroon aluminum bleacher seating that will allow for no movement or vibration. He said from what they’ve seen, the new Putnam Stadium will take on the look of a showplace the committee envisioned.
There will likely be 700 maroon chairback seats, and the bleachers will also have a back to them on the home side of the field.
“Everybody on the home side will have a backrest,” Gilmore said. “We want to take care of our Tomcat fans.”
The walkways on the top will still be concrete and there will be rails down the walkways in the reserved section seating.
Additionally, he said, there was some core drilling done around the end zone area and the concrete in that area can be salvaged with some patching. That will allow for a savings of at least $350,000 on Phase I of the project, he said.
“The band side of the end zone is in remarkably good condition,” Gilmore said. “On the visitor side is a major crack that can be coated. We’ll put the aluminum bleachers on that and it will blend perfectly.”
The grassy areas on either side of the end zone will also have bleachers, as originally proposed, adding additional seating to the stadium built with Works Progress Administration funds for $6,500 in 1937.
The bid for the other portion of Phase I, which includes putting in the bleachers and the infrasture, could be out for bid by the end of next week, Gilmore said.
“We hope those bids come in quickly,” he said. “From talking to a major bidder, if they can get the manufacturing going as early as March, we’re under a good time frame.”
The deconstruction of the stadium is expected to take two to three weeks, which would allow for construction work for the bleachers, a two-deck press box, additional concession stands and restrooms and locker rooms under the stadium about five to six months.
Ashland’s first home game for the 2013 season will be Aug. 30.
“We’re hoping against hope to approve those bleacher plans quickly and have a quick turnaround,” Gilmore said. “There’s always an outside shot that they (the state) don’t approve it in time or it’d be too quick for next fall. We’re hoping that’s not the case. The second thing that could happen is that the bid that comes in on the infrastructure and bleachers would far exceed what we have on hand.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a go and we’ll have this wonderful facility this fall.”
The stadium has been a front-burner issue for Gilmore since the school board approved spending $1.5 million for the project in October. The Tomcats won their last game in “old Putnam Stadium” in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs against Covington Holmes. Ten-year head coach Leon Hart announced his retirement in January.
The total restoration project has a $5 million price tag, so there is more fundraising ahead for the committee.
For a look at what is planned and for ways to contribute, visit putnamstadium.com.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.