EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 25, 2013

Mayor: Councilors didn't do homework on stadium grant

Email suggests they should have known state grant can't be used for stadium repairs


David Van Dam, the mayor’s aide, said Fiorentini remains committed to finding money to finish making repairs to the stadium. Van Dam said the administration is exploring several options to pay for repairs, including applying for an energy grant for new lights.

“No one wants to see the stadium finished more than me,” the mayor told councilors last week. “But I don’t want to raise the public’s expectations for the stadium. I prefer to under-promise and over-deliver.”

O’Brien, the athletic director, said 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. 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. The cost of finishing the entire project is $4.7 million, O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the city’s commitment to the stadium in the annual budget has fallen to just $9,000 per year, barely enough to pay the electric bills, he said.

The stadium generates $40,000 per year in advertising revenue and $25,000 in rental income, O’Brien said. About a third of that money pays for operating costs and the rest goes into the renovation fund, he said.

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