There’s always a Christmas-type buzz to the new stuff.
That would explain the sense of excitement Dick Wilson carried with him late Friday afternoon as he made his way through the first flow of visitors to the official opening of the newly reconstructed Newell Stadium and its New Balance Track and Field.
Wilson finally made his way about three-quarters of the way up the new metal bleachers, before turning around and basking in the glow of what he and his merry band of visionaries had wrought.
Stretching out in front of him, all that was old had turned new.
New Fieldturf playing surface.
New bleachers, bathrooms, scoreboard, goal posts and concessions stands.
In all, a new day for Gloucester High School sports, and for a facility that, first dedicated in 1923, is once again expected to host a variety of other civic events as well.
“Look around and see how hard all these volunteers are working getting things ready for tonight,” Wilson said. “That’s how it’s been all along. This is the type of community stuff you just can’t buy.”
The gates were supposed to open at 5 p.m., but the new grandstand — which elevates the stadium’s capacity to 2,250 from the old 1,800 — was about one-quarter full by 4:45 p.m. All along the span of new bleachers, kids and adults kept the view of the shiny new digs that came with a price tag of more than $3.5 million.
“It’s just perfect,” said Jerry O’Neil, GHS Class of 1949 and member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. “I’ve never seen a better high school complex than this track and this field.”
The only glitch to the opening — and it wasn’t even that — was that the flood of early arrivals caught the new concession stands and volunteers by surprise. The nacho cheese sauce hadn’t quite come up to the proper temperature by the time folks started ordering them. Also, the concessioneers were still waiting on the 40 pizzas from Poseidon, which arrived shortly afterward.