Tech Completes Study On Stadium Expansions, Moves Ahead With Bid Process

ATLANTA — The Georgia Tech Athletic Association has completed a feasibility study to explore an expansion and renovation of Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field and Russ Chandler Stadium, Tech’s baseball facility. The goal is to upgrade both stadiums into first-class facilities that equal or exceed those at other ACC schools.

The Athletic Association will now begin the process of asking for bids from architects and engineers in order to proceed with the design phase for the expansions, which would increase the total capacity of Bobby Dodd Stadium to 55,000 seats and provide for 5,000 seats at Russ Chandler Stadium.

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“The decision now is how we will handle the whole process,” said Dave Braine, Tech’s director of athletics, “whether we handle it ourselves, hire a project manager to handle it for us, hire a firm to turn-key it, or a combination of the three. I think the least we will do will be the hire a project manager.”

The study and plans for the Bobby Dodd Stadium project were prepared by Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, Inc., and completed at the end of March, 2000. Rosser International completed the feasibility study for Russ Chandler Stadium. The total cost to complete both projects is in the neighborhood of $70 million, with the football expansion accounting for approximately $63 million.

“This will be all privately funded,” said Braine. “We cannot begin raising money for either facility until January of 2001 when Georgia Tech finishes its capital campaign. My feeling, at the present time, is that the earliest the baseball stadium could be complete is for the ’02 season. The earliest the football stadium could be complete is for the ’04 season, depending on whether we fast-track it or have to play in the Georgia Dome for a year.

“We think it will take a year to raise the money, which would put us through the ’01 season in football. If we have the money and we phase it, we would do part of it after the ’02 season is complete, and the rest after the ’03 season is complete.”

Additional goals for the football stadium, which is the oldest on-campus facility at a Division I-A institution, include additional athletic office and conference space, stadium maintenance space and additional stadium support facilities.

In the North end zone, an area presently occupied by the Homer Rice Center for Sports Performance and the Edge Athletics Center, the proposal calls for a new North stands structure which will seat more than 11,000 spectators, and will connect the East and West stands. Two levels of boxes will be added between the lower North stands and the upper North stands, and the structure also will contain a new locker room, training room and coaches’ offices.

Current plans also call for the complete removal of both levels of the existing East stands. In their place will be a brand new East stands structure with new concourses, concession and rest room facilities. The East stands will be moved toward the West stands onto ground that was once used for a track. A proposed lower level concourse will connect the Edge Building in the North end zone to the Wardlaw Building in the South end zone, and will contain rest rooms, multi-use recreational and fitness space and storage space. The upper concourse will be enlarged, providing new concession and retail space for game days.

Field level improvements include shifting the playing field 15 feet to the North and closer to the West stands. This will accommodate the addition of a new seating area in front of the Wardlaw Building in the South end zone, which will be bowled to connect the East and West stands. Moving the field also will allow the new East stands to be built without encroaching on Techwood Drive, which runs parallel behind the stands.

Renovation of the West stands was completed in 1992 and will not be a part of this new construction other than to connect concourses with the remainder of the stadium.

Improvements to the four areas may be phased as separate construction packages.

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Georgia Tech’s baseball facility would double in size in the plans proposed for the renovation of Russ Chandler Stadium. The current grandstand, built in 1985, seats approximately 1,800, and more than 4,000 spectators jammed inside the park for NCAA regional tournament games last year.

To reach the goal of 5,000 total seats, the current grandstand will be extended down the first and third base lines beyond the current dugouts, which will be eliminated. Additional seating will be constructed from the existing first row down to field level. This is made possible by moving home plate outward approximately 20 feet. In addition, bleachers will be built beyond the new dugouts to seat approximately 1,400 fans.

The current concourse, restrooms, concession stands and press box will be replaced. A wider, covered concourse will be created by building outward toward Ferst Drive from the existing grandstand, allowing room for two new ticket booths, two new concession stands and two new sets of restrooms.

Above the new concourse will be a brand new press level, which will include ample space and unobstructed sight lines for writers and broadcasters, flanked by luxury boxes that will extend to each end of the grandstand. The press level will be accessible by elevator or stairs.

The project also includes replacing the playing field with a new sand-profile, under-drained natural turf surface. In addition to moving home plate outward 20 feet, the field also will be rotated slightly clockwise, and a new outfield wall will be built. The outfield dimensions will not change radically from the current ones – 316 feet down the left field line, 325 down the right field line, 360 to the power alleys and 395 to center field.

The bullpens will remain essentially in their present locations. An indoor batting cage will be built beyond the bleachers down the left field line, replacing the present outdoor cage on the first base side and the indoor tunnel underneath the present grandstand.

The baseball stadium project is expected to cost approximately $7 million.

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