Stadium construction to begin

University officials say construction will cease prior to the begining of the 2016 football season

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The first phase of construction on the Richardson Stadium revitalization project will begin this summer, which University officials say will have little impact on the 2015-16 football season.

John Witjes, Director of Physical Plant Services, said the first phase of construction is set to begin this July on the stadium’s east side. According to Witjes, construction will begin at “the spaces near the tennis courts and the parking lots.”

Witjes said the initial construction will be mostly groundwork, which refers to the laying of pipes and drainage systems beneath the turf. These additions are scheduled to be completed in advance of the coming football season — specifically, the first home game on Aug. 30.

Construction will then cease for the remainder of the 2015-16 season until November 2015, after the date of the final home game. 

“We are hoping for absolute minimal impact [on the players and spectators],” Witjes assured. He added that the field and spaces reserved for spectators won’t be affected by the work done during the summer.

Emilio Frometa, ArtSci ’16, the left guard for the Queen’s football team, said he isn’t fazed by construction plans. 

“As long as there is a field, goal posts, a ‘Q’ at center field, and room for the fans along with Queen’s Bands, I’m sure that the tradition of Queen’s football will carry on,” Frometa said. 

The revitalized stadium is scheduled to be built by August 2016. It will include a full artificial turf field, a Jumbotron scoreboard and new stadium seating.

This past year has seen a lengthy consultation process with students and community members. Members at AMS assembly have debated the timeline of construction and the physical makeup of the stadium — most notably at a Richardson-specific assembly on March 2, 2015. 

The stadium’s new seating plan includes a six-foot elevation between the stands and the field.  Computing Students’ Association President Erin Gallagher, CompSci ’16, said the proposed seating plans could endanger students during the March 2 meeting.

“You’re raising the stands six feet, what would happen when people try to storm the field?” Gallagher said.

Rector Mike Young, said he was also concerned for student safety due to the six-foot drop, adding that the field rush is not an “if”, but more of a “when”.

Member-at-large Leo Erlikhman disagreed. During that session of assembly, he said the stadium would provide a better fan experience. 

In a recent interview Erlikhman, ArtSci ’15, said the focus should be on expanding student attendance at sporting events, not the Field Rush.

“The field and stands are made so that we can have a better experience, and that should not be sacrificed for 15 minutes of field running. We need more students in the stands and more people caring about viewing our Gaels play,” Erlikhman said. 

Queen’s Athletics also succeeded in extending its noise bylaw exemption from the City of Kingston. Following complaints last year from community members about the level of noise coming from the fields on West Campus, the University received a limited one-year noise bylaw exemption. 

Queen’s Athletics went back to City Council for a one-year extension, which was granted to them starting May 2015. The bylaw exemption allows Queen’s Athletics to use the sound and lights necessary for sporting event held on the field between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

 “It is important always to know what concerns we need to work with — whether that is City staff, councilors or neighbours,” said Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation. She added that she’s pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

“It is validating that our work this past year has been rewarded.”

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