Putnam demolition day Jan. 27

MARK MAYNARD, The Independent

ASHLAND — Make your calendars for Jan. 27.

That’s the long-awaited demolition day for Putnam Stadium.

Superintendent Steve Gilmore said they have verbal approval of the contracts from the Kentucky Department of Education for that start date.

Light’s Enterprises will be doing the deconstruction of the 76-year-old stadium. Light’s Enterprises is a subcontractor under Trace Construction, the general contractor on the stadium renovation project.

It’s not known yet exactly what time the demolition will start or how long it may take.

The renovation project has been several years in the making.

The Ashland Board of Education on Dec. 4 agreed unanimously to rebuild Putnam Stadium and hired two construction companies to do the work for $1.46 million.

“This vote was a historic one because the stadium is a community facility,” Gilmore said. “People think of Putnam Stadium as theirs as citizens, not because they have kids in school, but because it belongs to the community.”

The project includes new concrete foundations — the existing ones will be demolished — bleachers with fold-down VIP chairs, press box, concrete walkways behind the bleachers, fencing and lighting, plus preliminary plumbing for future restrooms.

It does not include locker rooms, for which the board expects to pursue financing later.

The final price tag was about $150,000 less than the bid the board rejected in March. That was because the district offered more bid options rather than insisting on bids for the complete job, Gilmore said.

Toadvine Enterprises of Louisville will put in the bleachers for $885,000 and Trace Creek Construction of Vanceburg will do the foundations and other work for $580,000.

Gilmore expects bleacher installation commencing as early as spring 2014.

It is a virtual certainty, and the project’s highest priority, that the stadium be ready for the first home game of the 2014 season, he said.

Last August, on the eve of the first home game of the Ashland Tomcat season, two sections of Putnam Stadium were deemed unsafe and 900 seats — 450 on each side — were cordoned off. That prompted a move being made as soon as possible, so the board decided to proceed with the first phase of the new stadium project.

Foundation chairman Greg Jackson said there’s still much to do with fundraising to finish the lockerooms and upper level concessions, at a cost of about $400,000, among them. Also new lights, a parking lot and field turf are among the high-ticket items.

“It’s a great day. We’ve been waiting for this a long time,” Jackson said. “I sent a note to the committee saying, ‘The time is here!’ I’m really excited about it. January 27 is a big day for this stadium. I know it’s bittersweet for all of us in the process. At the end of the day everyone will be proud of the new stadium.”

Jackson said the goal in the process of remaking Putnam Stadium was to keep the mystique surrounding the stadium.

Putnam Stadium has been the home of the Tomcats since 1937 when the stadium, originally known as Tomcat Stadium, was constructed through a WPA project. The original price tag for the stadium was $6,500.

Memorabilia

Anyone interested in having a piece of the stadium as a keepsake, while also contributing to the restoration effort, can purchase a seat for $20. Forms are available in Central Office. Deadline is Jan. 24.

Also, bricks will be piled in an area away from the construction site and are available at no cost.