Published: Aug 30, 2008 12:30 AM
Modified: Aug 30, 2008 02:31 AM
By next fall, Durham residents can have access to a place to walk, jog, push strollers, or run sprints other than Duke University's East Campus wall or the American Tobacco Trail.
The Durham County Memorial Stadium, on Stadium Drive just north of downtown, is going to have the nicest track in the area, with a polyurethane surface that will not soften or harden depending on the temperature.
There will also be a football field, permanently marked for games, made of soft synthetic grass that will not suffer from deluge or drought.
Within two years, sports fans will be able to enjoy football or soccer games, and take their breaks in new bathrooms. The old men's room urinal troughs will be replaced with new fixtures, and there will be family restrooms for adults and young children to share.
There will also be a new press box, concessions stands, and more than 1,400 premium seats between the 30-yard lines that will be 24 inches wide rather than the standard 18 inches.
The money for these renovations will trickle down from the $121.5 million the county has planned for a new health and human services complex. The stadium project is expected to cost $7.7 million, up from its initial $4.5 million, but that number has yet to be formally approved by the county commissioners.
When the stadium renovations were first being discussed, Shaw University entertained the idea of providing matching funds. In the end, however, the Raleigh-based school decided to pay the county to host all of its home football games, as it started doing in 2007.
This year's season is locked in and will conclude Nov. 8, said Terry Spicer, director of sports media and athletic relations for Shaw. Their home games last year averaged 6,000 people.
The stadium will be locked down starting Dec. 1 until Aug. 15, 2009, for the first phase of renovations, including the track and football field, said Mike Turner, director of general services for the county.
It will again be locked down the same months the following year to complete projects like the press box and other peripheral improvements.
The Durham County Memorial Stadium Authority reviewed updates to the design of the stadium on Tuesday with DTW Architects & Planners. The biggest concern was the bathrooms.
Plans included reusing the old fixtures when appropriate in order to keep the budget within $7.7 million (previous plans went roughly $400,000 over budget). There was much concern over the point in restoring a stadium but keeping its sinks and toilets, which were constructed in 1955.
In the end, Turner suggested his department take on the task of replacing the fixtures over the next two years, leaving the rest to the county as originally planned. Those original bathrooms are only meant to be used if the stadium nears its full capacity of 8,884, leaving ample time to upgrade the fixtures even during the upcoming football seasons.
Before any of this can begin, the county has to finalize the funding of the health and human services complex. By the end of the month, said George Quick, county finance director, the county will know what the bids are and can push forward.
The finalized plan is to go before the County Commissioners during their next work session Tuesday, and will be voted on at a meeting on Nov. 18.
With all the talk of how nice the new complex is going to be, Tommy Hunt, chairman of the stadium authority, said they should probably look into getting 24-hour security.
Other authority members agreed.