VALDOSTA -- Despite Mother Nature's recent interference, the newly-renovated Bazemore-Hyder Stadium should be completed in time for the season.
Construction on Valdosta High's football stadium has been hampered by almost-daily afternoon rains recently, negating the time the construction company had been ahead of schedule.
Nevertheless, Pinnacle Prime Contractors is expected to have the stadium done by the Aug. 6 deadline set last year. The company would incur a monetary penalty for every day after Aug. 6 that it's not completed.
"It looks like (they'll make the deadline)," said Bill Aldrich, Director of Operations for the Valdosta City School System. "Right now, we're basically on schedule. Rain the last few days has slowed us down, but it should dry out this weekend.
"The rain's slowed us a little. We've just got to wait until it dries out. Those are things you can't control."
Once things dry out, the base will be laid for the new Sprinturf playing field. The Sprinturf people will then lay down the playing surface, and not long after that, the field will be suitable for use.
"It's going to have to dry out, so we can put the base and stuff down," Aldrich said. "They're leveling the field out right now. That's almost done. Then they'll lay some drainage tiles all over the field. They'll come in and cover those with gravel. The gravel will be in three layers, and will get smaller and smaller each layer. It will be built up about 12 inches upwards. Then the Sprinturf can be laid."
With the deadline barely a month away, most of the work is already done. The home stands have been erected and the chair and bench-back seats have been installed, with paws showing on two chair sections and a big gold V on the middle section. The work on the visitor's side stands is complete, too. The locker rooms are mostly completed. The restrooms are ready for the plumbing to be installed. The trophy cases and shelves have been delivered to the Valdosta Wildcat museum. Most of the brick veneer wall around the stadium is complete; once the work inside the stadium is complete and the Sprinturf is laid, the rest of the wall will be finished.
"The major part left now is the field," Aldrich said. "There's still some finish work under the bleachers. And the press box, which is probably the last thing we'll get done."
Pinnacle Prime has put in a lot of work to get the stadium done in a short time. It's required a lot of long days, and plenty of seven-day work weeks.
"They're working long days every day. They're working every day, and most weekends," Aldrich said. "They've taken what normally would have been a 12-month to 16-month job, and they're getting it done in less than eight. You don't get where they are now if you aren't working hard. It hasn't been but six months and two weeks ago since you played the state championship game out there. That tells you right there how hard they've been working. They've taken a stadium down, and are now putting another one up, all in about six months."
The stadium will not be used for Valdosta's Aug. 5 "home" scrimmage with Camden County, a rematch of last season's AAAAA state championship game (and the last game played in pre-renovation Bazemore-Hyder). That scrimmage will be played at Brooks County High in Quitman.
"It was never planned to play (the Camden scrimmage) at the stadium. The first game at the stadium is Aug. 20," Aldrich said.
The open house for the stadium is tentatively set for 7 p.m. on Aug. 12.
On Aug. 20, Valdosta High opens its refurbished stadium and the 2004 football season against Shiloh.
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