MOUNT VERNON — In another step in the Gateway Project to bring an athletic field house and other benefits to Mount Vernon High School, demolition started on the current ticket booth, concessions and restrooms at the entrance of the stadium.
“We’ve been talking about the field house project and really started planning it a couple years ago and identifying what needs we had,” Mount Vernon athletic director Justin Sanford said. “(The field house) was identified as priority No. 1 in this project, but all along the way we were looking at renovating or rebuilding existing parts of the stadium.”
The demolition started Tuesday with the structure being leveled. The new entrance will have a lot of the same feel as the old, sitting as a single-story building with one single, centered entrance, but it will be bigger in square footage. The restrooms will double in size, both concession stands will be larger and there will be an addition of a family restroom. The ticket booths will be more user-friendly so they can be used for soccer games and other athletic events, instead of someone sitting at a table at the entrance.
With the demolition started, the facility has no running water, restrooms or electric to its lights or public announcer setup. Because of that, the track team will not be able to host any events this spring.
“In order to get it completed and to get it ready for the fall season, we had to get it started as soon as possible,” Sanford said. “It’s going to come with a little bit of an inconvenience to our track program.”
All of the home matches were changed to away for this spring and the home invitational had to be scratched from the schedule.
“Obviously, the intention will be to bring something like that back in the following years,” Sanford said. “It might be a challenge to get it back, but looking at long term goals of what this facility will bring is what makes it worth it.”
The ticket booth and entrance is another step to the final goals of the Gateway Project. The finish of the current construction, including the bricks and siding, will be set to match the field house when it is completed. The crew and materials for the build take up some space in the parking lot to the south of the stadium, and that may impact baseball overflow parking this spring. Although this project should be wrapped up by mid-August for the start of fall sports, there will be continued construction in the area for the overall project that may also impact parking.
“It’s going to be short-term pain for phenomenal goals,” Sanford said. “It’ll be a premiere facility that I think our athletes and community will greatly benefit from.”