“We are all on record that this is what we want,” Ryan told the mayor. “You’ll be off the hook if it’s rejected. All you have to do is submit the application.”
Fiorentini said he doesn’t want to be “off the hook.”
“The buck stops here,” the mayor said. “I’ll apply for the stadium only if I think there’s a chance we can get it. And right now I don’t.”
Renovations to the structure began in 2006. Since then, the state has provided about $3 million, most of it to repair two of the five grandstand sections, fix structural problems and replace the grass field with artificial turf.
Tom O’Brien, chairman of the Stadium Commission and the high school athletic director, told councilors last month that finishing the renovation would eventually pay for itself by boosting the facility’s rental potential and transforming it into one of the premier sports venues in New England.
“Opportunities for Haverhill sports and recreational activities will be greatly enhanced and organizers from all over New England will come to our great community to use this great facility,” O’Brien told the council last month.
Requests to rent the stadium by sports teams, summer camps and for events have taken off since the initial repairs and artificial turf was installed two years ago, O’Brien said. But he added there’s great potential for further growth once the renovation is completed.
He said other parts of the facility that need to be repaired include the brick wall that surrounds the stadium, locker rooms and the parking lot. The stadium also needs a new press box that must include an elevator due to accessibility laws, he said.
The unrenovated sections of grandstand are crumbling and closed to the public, O’Brien said.