Estimated cost to restore and modernize the dilapidated Hinchliffe Stadium is somewhere around $44 million, according to an engineering firm hired by the city to complete a partial rehabilitation of the structure.
During a presentation in front of the city council experts from Wank Adams Slavin Associates, a New York based design and architectural firm, presented a detailed assessment of where the stadium currently stands and submitted a design for its future development.
Built in 1931-32, the art-deco style stadium was left to languish when the city’s public school district, which has ownership rights over the property, could not muster enough cash for the upkeep of the stadium, allowing it to deteriorate.
“At this point what we have is a ruin, and what we want to do is stabilize the ruin,” said Pamela Jerome, a preservationist with the firm.
“Our team did a very detailed, inch by inch, hands on assessment of the stadium,” said Carl Rothbart, an engineer with WASA Studio which was awarded a $338,000 contract in September 2013 to perform the study and partially stabilize the stadium.
“Stabilization doesn’t mean a completed project, it means we’re going to stop the decay as it is, and we’re going to go to build,” said Jeffery Jones, the city’s mayor.
During that assessment which involved engineers and architects, said Rothbart, the company found the stadium does not meet modern place-of-assembly standards. “The stadium as it currently is, is not code compliant in terms of a place of assembly,” said Jerome.
“In order to comply, we will be widening some of the stairs,” said Jerome. “We’re also removing a row of seats.”
Currently the stadium is able to hold 9,700 people; however, once it is modernized for wheel chair accessibility and tiny bathrooms are expanded, it will have a capacity of 7,100 people, according to the firm. “It’s still extremely large for a high school stadium,” said Jerome.
“We’ll introduce 7,000 perforated aluminum seats,” said Jack Esterson, an architect with the firm.
Rothbart said there is some good that the firm found at the stadium, mainly that the concrete is still salvageable. “Overall the concrete is still structurally very sound,” said Rothbart. “Most of the concrete is salvageable.”
Among the suggested changes, the firm included in its design a visitor center, an elevated structure that will sit in the corner of the stadium that’s closest to the Great Falls. The visitor center will serve as a go-to place for visitors to learn about the stadium’s history. “It would go beyond the sporting events,” said Esterson. “You can overlook the tree line to the Great Falls.”
The company suggested, in order to preserve the historical nature of the stadium, to re-design the entrance by adding a separate piece in front of the stadium rather than making a new bigger entrance, a piece that will include flags and murals of greats who played at the stadium.
A concession area is also in the plans.
The firm estimates the total restoration cost for the stadium will be $24 million, and to modernize it with the new visitor center and seats and entrance will cost another $20 million, bringing the total cost to restore and modernize to $44 million. “To rehabilitate the entire stadium, make it functional will cost around $24 million,” said Rothbart. “To build all these new components, we may be talking about $20 million.”
The firm produced a massive report on the stadium. “We created a detailed, almost 300 page report,” said Rothbart. “A master plan for where to go from here.”