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May 8, 2013

Council makes hard push for stadium repairs

Poor lighting, crumbling grandstand stand in way of maximizing rental opportunities

HAVERHILL — City Council is pushing the mayor to find $1.9 million to repair crumbling sections of grandstand and install new lights at Trinity Stadium.

Tom O’Brien, chairman of the Stadium Commission and the high school athletic director, told councilors last night that the improvements would eventually pay for themselves by boosting the 77-year-old 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 said. “And it’s great for the city’s economy to have all these out of town visitors coming here.”

O’Brien said replacing the stadium lights are the top priority. He said it is so poorly illuminated that he no longer allows lacrosse games to be played there at night.

“There’s barely enough light to meet the requirements for baseball,” O’Brien said. “To attract semi-pro and college teams, we need to improve the lighting.”

The council invited O’Brien to brief them on the status of the stadium renovation after some councilors suggested it has stalled. Renovations began in 2006 and the state has provided about $3 million since then, most of it to repair two of the five grandstand sections, fix structural problems and replace the grass field with artificial turf.

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 O’Brien said there is great potential for further growth once the renovation is completed.

Other parts of the facility that need to be repaired, O’Brien said, include the brick wall that surrounds the stadium, locker rooms and parking lot. The stadium also needs a new press box that must include an elevator due to accessibility laws, he said.

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