By Nick Curcuru
---- — They’ve rolled out the green carpet at Newell Stadium.
The Stadium, which is home to several Gloucester High School sports programs and in the process of a complete overhaul, had artificial field turf laid down this week and the project is both on schedule and on budget according to Dick Wilson, fund-raising chief for the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, which has spearheaded all fund-raising efforts for the new stadium.
“Everything is working beautifully,” Wilson said. “We are on budget and on schedule which is a great thing.”
The artificial field turf, fibers that are designed to emulate real grass, will be completed this week ahead of the June 1 deadline. The project received a $500,000 park grant to install turf at Newell Stadium as long it was finished before June 1.
While the project is on schedule and on budget, and may appear to be near completion, that is not the case. The turf is down, the bleachers have been erected, but the track will need the duration of the summer to be completed.
An asphalt surface, which will sit underneath the track’s rubber surface, will need to be put down in two coats. After each coat is laid down it will need three weeks to properly bleed.
After the two coats have bled the rubber surface will be spread on top, which will also take three weeks to dry before it will be available for use. The track surface must but put down in the hot summer months, above 80 degrees, to bleed and dry properly meaning the process can not begin until the temperature is consistently warmer.
The stadium will be available for use at its dedication ceremony on Sept. 6, when the Gloucester Fishermen’s football team opens its season against Lynn Classical.
“It almost looks like we are getting toward the end of the process, but we’re not,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done including some things that you can’t see with the naked eye. We would love to have graduation on the field in June, but the track won’t be ready by then.”
The Newell Renewal project was spearheaded in 2011 with the GFAA working tirelessly to raise funds to begin the project. The project was bolstered when the city agreed to cover a $1.5 million bond for the project, making it a $3.5 million public-private partnership. Construction on the new site began last fall.
By the fall, Newell will host all sports including football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse to go along with a regulation size track.
The track on the old Newell Stadium was shorter than regulation size and been condemned for more than a half decade causing the Gloucester spring track team to have all of its meets on the road.
The Gloucester football team will also be back playing at Newell this fall after playing its home games at Manchester Essex last fall.
Sports Editor Nick Curcuru can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3444, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.