Construction for the Indians’ new home has been funded through bonding and continues to generate enthusiasm.
(Mitchell’s Contracting Service photo)
A new tradition is beginning in Elmore County, Ala., as fans mark the start of the 2020 football season. Hohenberg Field, the longtime home for Wetumpka High School games, has been replaced with a highly anticipated stadium. The 5,000-seat facility and track are part of a sports complex featuring more than 10,000 sq. ft. of buildings, situated on a 40-acre site.
"Our old stadium was built in the 1930s, and over the years it had many upgrades," said Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis. "The location was such that it could no longer hold the crowds we were getting.
"The cost of the entire sports complex is $21 million, which includes our baseball and softball fields, archery range, fishing ponds, soccer fields, walking trail, rodeo, tractor pull and remote control plane takeoff and landing strip, along with our new football/track facility."
The football/track addition includes home and visitor side concessions, as well as TVs, restrooms, parking, locker rooms and a home and visitors side press box.
"The synthetic football field gives us the opportunity to not have rain-out games, and the drainage will be excellent," said Willis. "The track is a state-of-the-art facility, which will allow us to hold various types of events, such as high school, Division II, Division III, USTF and AAU. We are excited about the track, and the privilege it gives us for various events."
Construction for the Indians' new home has been funded through bonding and continues to generate enthusiasm.
"It's exciting to see a project of this magnitude finally becoming a reality in a city that's very sports and athletic minded," said Willis. "Excitement from our young athletes has been over the top, and very much appreciated by all. Reaction has been fantastic from the fans, recognizing that this is an enhancement to the quality of life in our community."
From a practical standpoint, the LED lights will operate more efficiently.
"Remote control will add to the savings of our utility cost," said Willis. "The track is being built to the highest standards, with the latest upscale technology and electronics."
Mitchell's Contracting Service Inc. of Catherine, Ala., served as the site contractor for the project. Frasier-Ousley Construction and Engineering Inc. was selected as the general contractor.
"We are extremely pleased with our construction company and the quality of work that they have shown," said Willis. "The materials they have used have been top-grade."
Frasier-Ousley President David Ousley noted that in addition to soggy weather conditions, challenges involved the short time frame to build and the delay of some materials due to the pandemic.
Despite excessive rains during the first two months of construction, crews managed to keep the project on schedule. Final tasks called for painting structures, completing flatwork, installing the track surface and performing one last cleaning. Ousley said when building nine separate buildings, being on the same page was essential.
"It's coordinating all the trades and making sure we have all materials required. We've had a good team of workers, subcontractors and suppliers. Coordination between the project manager and onsite superintendent is key."
Constructing the track involved layout, grading, crushed stone, asphalt, rubber track surface and striping. Sports Turf Company Inc. from Whitesburg, Ga., designed and built the track and football field.
Todd Wiggins, president of Sports Turf Company, said work began in April 2020. The company was responsible for the synthetic turf field and track and field events, including the steeple chase and track surface installation.
"The complication of the drainage system meant extra coordination between us and the general contractor to find a solution," said Wiggins. "Good communication made the project successful, and this challenge minimal. Weather also plays a factor in all outdoor facility construction, especially when you are dealing with asphalt and track surfacing."
As for the most time-consuming part of creating the track, Wiggins said, "Putting in the asphalt and waiting for it to cure, which takes 30 days. Unsuitable soils that had to be remediated took its fair share of time, as well. Lead time on materials due to the pandemic also created delays."
Wiggins expressed a sense of pride in creating something that will serve so many for years to come.
"Sports Turf Company has been a specialty athletics construction company for nearly 30 years. Sports Turf constructs the finest natural grass and artificial turf fields, tracks and tennis courts. The company has three certified field builders and two certified track builders, as recognized by The American Sports Builders Association [ASBA], making it one of the highest qualified athletics construction companies in the Southeast."
Musco Sports Lighting provided the lights for the project, which Ousley said was no small feat.
"It's a very complex task to set lights this tall. And they have a strobe feature that should be interesting."
The stands are aluminum seating that are assembled on site. Outdoor Aluminum provided the bleachers/press boxes. The nine different buildings constructed include the home concessions, visitors concessions, home lockers, visitors lockers, a VIP building and four ticket booths.
Regarding early work on the project, all the fill was available on site, so it was cut and shift mostly. Several thousand yards was transferred across the site. Excavation mainly involved footings and underground utilities. The property is fairly flat.
Ousley described the project as an ideal assignment.
"Our team of dedicated employees, subcontractors and suppliers know what it takes to get the job done. We've been in business since 1961, and focus on publicly funded projects of this nature. We have worked on literally hundreds of projects with the architect, McKee and Associates."
Willis added, "The stadium is just the next stage taken in the development of our overall sports complex, touching the lives of the youth of our city, allowing each one to compete at the highest level. It's important to us as city officials to be able to furnish an overall complex of this high standard." CEG
Equipment on the Job
A variety of equipment was needed for the project, including:
- a Komatsu PC450 excavator
- a Komatsu PC360 excavator
- a Komatsu PC300 excavator
- a Komatsu PC200 excavator
- a Komatsu PC138 excavator
- a Cat D8R dozer
- two Cat D6R dozers
- a Komatsu 51 dozer
- a Cat D3K dozer
- three Case 425 tractor scrapers
- two Volvo A30D off-highway trucks
- two Volvo A35D off-highway trucks.