Richardson expected on time

After Board of Trustees approval, new stadium scheduled to be ready for fall 2016

Construction on the new Richardson Stadium is expected to be finished in the fall of 2016. The revitalization project will cost $20.27 million to complete.
Construction on the new Richardson Stadium is expected to be finished in the fall of 2016. The revitalization project will cost $20.27 million to complete.
Photo: 
The new Richardson Stadium will have a capacity similar to the Gaels’ current home.
The new Richardson Stadium will have a capacity similar to the Gaels’ current home.
Credit: 
Graphic By Michaella Fortune

While no shovels have hit the ground yet, the University is optimistic they’ll build the new Richardson Stadium without any negative impact on Gaels football.

In a December meeting, Queen’s Board of Trustees approved the revitalization of Richardson Stadium, expected to cost $20.27 million. Construction on the new stadium is slated to begin at the end of the 2015 football season and be finished in time for the Gaels’ 2016 campaign.

That leaves nine to 10 months for the work to be done.

“We have from now until the end of the football season this year to really get all of our plans and things locked down,” said Leslie Dal Cin, director of Athletics and Recreation.

“We’re very confident in the timeline because we built three other fields on campus, so we know that the central construction is the field and everything works around it.”

The school is working with Shoalts and Zaback Architects Ltd. and contractors M. Sullivan and Son Limited — both of which are Kingston firms — on the stadium. The same companies also worked on the Queen’s School of Medicine building, completed in 2011.

Dal Cin said Queen’s has contingency plans if construction is delayed, but declined to comment on where the football team would play if construction isn’t finished before the 2016 season kicks off.

“[Physical Plant Services] is really responsible for managing that timeline and they do an excellent job. We had to bring in Nixon Field at a certain time, and that was done, and we had to bring in Miklas-McCarney Field in at a certain time, and that was done,” she said.

“If you have to call any — excuse the football pun — but any options and audibles at the line of scrimmage, you know what you have to do.”

Dal Cin said the University has looked at what other football programs did in situations where construction of a new stadium was delayed — including the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who played their 2012 home games in Carleton Place, roughly 50 kilometres southwest of downtown Ottawa.

Backup options for Queen’s could include opening the season on the road or finding a temporary home at another stadium, Dal Cin said, though no scenarios are fully developed.

With Athletics confident the stadium will be built on time, the focus shifts to the way in which it will impact Queen’s athletic programs.

The new stadium will have an artificial turf field, allowing Athletics and Recreation to spread out the use of their turf fields among varsity teams, clubs and intramurals, Dal Cin said.

“It opens up another artificial turf field, it opens up a ton more space and time for people to use and it allows us to distribute all of our programs more broadly across the four artificial turf fields,” Dal Cin said. “Teams get more time on better surfaces and our recreational users get more access to those fields on a more regular and earlier time frame.”

Both soccer teams will move from Miklas-McCarney Field to Richardson Stadium when it’s completed. Miklas-McCarney will continue to see usage on weekends where both football and soccer have home games, Dal Cin said, in addition to hosting lacrosse games and intramural sports.

Dal Cin said the revitalization of Richardson was the next step in Athletics’ goal to develop Queen’s athletic facilities.

“I think for us it’s one of the highlights, certainly of 2015, but for a long time in terms of our sports facilities,” she said. “The ARC was a great get. The combination of our outdoor fields and the stadium, they’re the next big piece.”

Gaels football coach Pat Sheahan said the revitalization of the stadium will have a positive impact on his program, both from a student perspective and on the athletic side.

“The whole image of the program changes,” Sheahan said. “When you walk into a new stadium, it sort of denotes a much higher sense of importance on campus. The appearance is there [that] the entire campus is behind the promotion of competitive sport.”

Sheahan said there would be a stronger pull for students to attend football games at the new stadium, as the facility would increase the pride students have in the program.

“The very seats, the bricks and mortar that are going to be there supporting the event were primarily paid for by Queen’s alumni, for the enjoyment of all students” he said. “Both the ones on the field and the ones in the stands.”

Sheahan said the new complex will also help draw future recruits to the Gaels, and has the potential to be a “first-class stadium.”

The one problem the coach has with the new stadium is the move to artificial turf. The Gaels are currently the only OUA team to host games on natural grass, something Sheahan said he and his players preferred to play on.

He added that he understands the decision to move to turf, due to the money being invested into the project. Grass fields are limited in terms of dealing with weather-related problems, Sheahan said, and turf allows for more usage.

“I honestly believe the artificial surface is a consequence of progress,” he said. “I think if we spend that kind of money on a stadium, we want to get maximal use out of it, and I’m afraid maximal use means that the artificial surface is incorporated.”

Despite his feelings about turf, Sheahan called the stadium a “monument to excellence”, and said it’ll have a great impact on the school.

“I think the athletes who wear the colours here are really going to enjoy stepping onto a first-class sports venue,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to see the Gaels play in that stadium and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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