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Lamade Stadium Sports New Look for 60th World Series

Thu July 20, 2006 - National Edition
Jeff McGaw



Lamade Stadium, the world’s most famous Little League facility located in Williamsport, PA, has a new and improved look, just in time for its 60th annual World Series Aug. 18-27.

Due to a gift from the estate of its namesake, Lamade (Law-Maw-Dee) Stadium has 14,700 sq. ft. of new overhead cover for spectators, and a total of 1,530 traditional, baseball stadium seats — 946 more than previously.

J.B. Gibbons Construction Inc. of Williamsport, and three local subcontractors handled the job, which began in March and ended ahead of schedule in mid-May.

Replacing bleacher seats with stadium seats was more complicated than it seems. The old bleachers rested upon 2-ft. 3-in. wide, descending, precast concrete steps. The new stadium seats required steps twice as large. The answer was to pour additional concrete to create one flat 4-ft. 6-in. step out of two descending steps.

In all, 100 yds. (91.4 m) of poured, high-strength, lightweight concrete, and 4,200 sq. ft. (390 sq m) of extruded polystyrene (foam) was needed for the job. The foam, which still remains beneath the concrete, allowed the concrete to harden around it to create the strength of a solid block without the dead weight of a solid block.

Seat anchors were added into the new concrete, and every new pour row of seating had new pipe-railing added.

“It wasn’t difficult, but it was tedious,” said Greg Day, project manager of J.B. Gibbons.

Three concrete finishers and six laborers handled the concrete work, Day said.

By design, the concrete used for the job had to be able to withstand 5,000 psi at 28 days. Sidewalks, by contrast, need to withstand up to approximately 3,000 psi at 28 days. At seven days, the concrete needs to be at 75 percent of strength.

A hydraulic press measured the pressure needed to crush 18- by 7-in. test cylinders of concrete. The seven day break, as it is known, was an important day in the life of a construction project like the one at Lamade, Day said.

“When you get that seven day break, you can breathe easier.”

The additional seating was handled as a mirrored project — when one-half of the work was completed, the exact same work was repeated on the second half.

The pristine baseball diamond posed a problem for workers. To avoid digging up the turf with heavy equipment, “All of the form and pour material had to be carried in by hand,” Day said. “Human labor got it in there and a concrete pump was used to pipe in the cement.”

Gibbons subcontracted with ASP Services Inc. of Selinsgrove, PA, to supply and erect structural steel and deck. Nova Construction of Williamsport did the roofing, and Tra Electric Inc. of Watsontown, PA, installed the lights and sound system wiring.

“It went smoothly and a big part of that was working well with your client,” said Day. “Little League was excellent to work with. Coordination was perfect throughout the project.”

Day said he was excited and proud to be part of the renovation.

“When we were kids we’d ride our bikes over there and hang out during the games,” said Day, a Williamsport native. The stadium is “history,” he added. “The whole world comes once a year.”

Gibbons and Little League are familiar business partners. Gibbons transformed the facility’s six batting cages from traditional net and pole structures to lighted, under-roof batting tunnels similar to what professional baseball teams use at their training facilities.

“Now they can bat rain or shine,” Day said of the hundreds of young players who converge on the facility each year.

The Stadium

Howard J. Lamade Stadium was built in 1959 on what was formerly known as Howard J. Lamade Field. The original wood and steel grandstands were torn down and replaced with a modern, concrete structure in 1968.

Additional seating was added down the foul lines in 1972. On Aug. 24, 1992, Lamade held its first night game.

In 2001, office space was added below the stadium. According to little League officials, an estimated 45,000 fans can watch a game at Lamade including the ones who sit on the terraced, lawn-covered hills beyond the outfield fence.

Prior to the most recent renovations, bench seating extended from behind home plate and down both foul lines. Only the seats behind home plate and extending to a point approximately even with first and third base were covered. With the exception of the 584 stadium seats, the rest of the seating was on regular, aluminum benches.

Howard J. Lamade

Howard J. Lamade was a journalist who helped to transform his family’s newspaper, The Grit, from a 4,000 reader local paper to a nationally recognized publication with more than a million readers.

“Howard J. Lamade was instrumental in Little League being where it is today, both in terms of its location here in North Central Pennsylvania, and as the world’s largest and most respected youth sports program,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of the Little League International board of directors. CEG