While many Cape Ann drivers rolled their eyes when they saw the state roll out the orange cones to continue working on the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge, it was great to see work crews rolling out the artificial turf playing field at Gloucester’s “new” Newell Stadium earlier this week.
And while Dick Wilson, chief fund-raiser for the project and for the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association, is right to note there is still much work to be done, it’s clear that the Newell Renewal project is indeed on track for opening this fall, when Gloucester High School’s students and student-athletes return for a new year.
The development of the new stadium – and, make no mistake, it is new, with a new grandstand in place and a new track to come, joining the new and vastly improved playing surface — marks the culmination of three years of work on what began as a classic grass roots project launched by the GFAA. As it moved forward, the renewal effort then evolved into perhaps the ultimate public-private partnership, with the city investing a $1.5 million bond, with an allocation of a state grant and Community Preservation Act dollars, and corporate backing that’s included a $500,000 naming rights deal with Jim Davis’s New Balance shoe company.
But it’s clear from the work this week that it has come together just as everyone hoped, yielding a facility that will not only serve Gloucester’s student athletes, but the community, and creating a venue that will be a true source of community pride.
Wilson said the project is on track for a grand opening Sept. 6, when the GHS Fishermen open their 2013 football season. Mark that date in your calendars now, for it will be an opening to celebrate.