Cardinal Stadium likely won’t be ready for Greenwich High home opener for football

GREENWICH – The construction work underway to install new bleachers at Cardinal Stadium will not be completed in time for the football team’s opening game at Greenwich High School, a school board member said on Tuesday.

“We’re not going to do the Sept. 18 game, that just won’t happen,” said Joe Kelly, the board member who oversaw the project for the board.

“We’re going to have to do it on the road in a way. We just can’t do that one, ”Kelly said.

But the first part of the improvement project was “about 100 percent complete,” he said.

Kelly, a former GHS rugby coach, said he believes the city will issue a temporary occupancy certificate in time for the Oct. 2 football game, even though not all work is complete.

Calling himself the project’s “resident optimist”, Kelly said the stadium project was a “work in progress”.

Work on the bleachers is expected to be completed and it should be safe to use, he said, but other parts of the project, such as landscaping improvements, may not be ready.

“We can present it and say, ‘Please excuse our faults,’” Kelly said. “There might still be gravel where they’re going to be paved in the future. … I would like to have a finished product, but I would hate for these children, these seniors at school, to wait. They only have one year of final.

“If we’re worried about presenting a shiny new product to the community and we miss a home game or two because we’re waiting, we’re not giving the kids what they really want,” he said.

The school district has not announced whether the Sept. 18 game has been moved to another location.

Jonathan Supranowitz, communications director for Greenwich Public Schools, said on Tuesday the district was “working on alternative plans with another local district” and said details would be released.

“Due to concerns that have not yet been clarified, we cannot provide an exact completion date” for Cardinal Stadium, Supranowitz said. “However, we will do our best to open the stadium as soon as possible.”

Kelly said he intends to present his plan to open the stadium to his colleagues on the Education Council for discussion and said he will also meet with Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones, the principal of GHS Ralph Mayo and GHS Sporting Director Gus Lindine.

“Even though this is an unfinished product, kids will still have the chance to play in front of their home stadium in front of their home fans at a home game,” said Kelly. “We are doing our best to present this to our community. It’s a school and children come first.

The members of the soccer team “just want their parents, friends and classmates in the stands to cheer them on while they are on the pitch as gladiators trying to defend our city’s honor,” a- he declared. “I know for a fact that the children would absolutely like this stadium to be open even if it is not yet finished so that they can have their experience playing at home. This is what I push for. “

The GHS stadium project was divided into several phases. Phases 1A and 1B include the replacement of the bleachers on the house side and the addition of a new press room with elevator, a new club room, a new concession stand, new toilets, a new ticket office, new lighting on the existing light poles and additional accessible parking spots.

Phase 1A is “nearing completion” with the bleachers, press booth and elevator shaft as well as structures under the bleachers including the new concession stand, team room and public washrooms completed , Supranowitz said. The elevator car is expected to be installed and inspected “in the next few days,” he said.

Easement approval required

The Cardinal Stadium project also requires additional approvals from the Board of Education and the Representative Municipal Assembly for an easement required by Eversource.

According to an update the district sent to parents on Friday, the easement is needed for Eversource to increase air service from 200 amps to 800 amps more powerful, which the new features require.

“Apart from this new easement approval requirement, the project is progressing well,” the district said in the update.

The district also said it was continuing to work with the state Department of Transportation on access from East Putnam Avenue to a new parking lot planned to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This work with the DOT “should not disrupt the project schedule,” but the project requires the city-approved Eversource easement.

The school board is scheduled to meet in a special meeting Thursday at 7 p.m., and the easement vote is on the agenda. If approved, the item will then go to the RTM, which is due to meet on September 27.

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