LETHBRIDGE – In just three weeks the umpire will yell “Play ball!’ for the first time at the renovated Spitz Stadium. And the city says despite a harsh winter for construction, it will mostly be ready.
“The construction time for this second phase, building the whole upper level, was only eight months. And it’s pretty amazing that they pulled it off,” project manager Ric Johnston said Wednesday, May 16. “The local trades are so good, and there’s some real skill and real perseverance.”
Crews had an eight-month window before the Lethbridge Bulls’ season begins to complete phase two, consisting of an upper concourse and elevator. Johnston said the bitter cold and above-average snowfall during this past winter caused few problems, and the contractor has told the city the ballpark will be ready to open on time.
“The steel structure was able to proceed through the coldest part of the winter, and those guys were just amazing, how they persevered through it,” he said. “And then we had a little bit of a holdup when the spring just didn’t come. We were waiting to pour some concrete for the concourse that again, we had to ultimately frame in and hoard it and heat it to be able to get the initial concrete poured. But after that, things went well.”
In the next couple of weeks, Johnston said paving is planned for the perimeter of the grandstand. Over the past few days, new fencing was installed, and crews had some painting to do and glazing in the press box. Plumbing and electrical work are also still on tap. Johnston said the new elevator will be functional by opening day.
The only part of the upgrade still up in the air for opening day is the new ticket booth. He said they may have to use last year’s temporary booth for the first couple of weeks.
The project also remains on budget, Johnston said. Prior to construction, there had been some cost concerns, but those were addressed by modifying the plans. He adds nothing unexpected has happened to affect that.
The Bulls will play their first six games on the road. The new-look Spitz Stadium makes its debut when the Bulls host the Okotoks Dawgs June 8.
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