Wednesday June 19th, 2024 1:16AM

Phase 2 of City Park renovation 'on schedule and on budget'

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — It’s been long overdue and will cost at least $13.6 million when it’s all completed.

But when the longtime iconic home of Gainesville football and soccer, City Park Stadium, sees its newest makeover completed, many are expecting it to be money well spent.

The final phase of the project started in December of last year, following the end of the Red Elephants football season, and is currently in Phase 2.

Director of Maintenance and Operations David Presnell said it’s the final phase of the project, which involves reworking the press box, bathrooms, and concession stand and adding seating to the facility. The last renovations to the bleachers and press box were over 40 years ago.

“The initial goal when we all sat down last year and looked at the project as a whole was to be done by the beginning (of the football) season,” Presnell said. “But when we realized just how much work was going to be involved in getting it to a more modern state, we realized that probably wouldn’t be possible.”

The first part of the project involved changing the stadium's ticket entrance, which was completed at the beginning of the 2023 football season. Now, they are working to try to finish the final phase by mid- to end-September.

Due to the construction, the Red Elephants will play their first four games of the season on the road, starting with a trip to Marietta on Aug. 16. After road games at Moody (Ala.), Westlake, and Carrollton, Gainesville hopes to christen the “new” City Park Stadium on Sept. 20 with the Region 7-5A opener against Lanier.

Presnell said things are “on schedule and on budget” as they target the Sept. 20 opening.

“There are always challenges with things like weather, especially rain, but so far, we’re still on target for that,” he said.

The biggest improvement will be the additional seating, which will jump from 4,400 to 5,400 seats in total capacity. The visitor side will stay at 2,000, while the home side will increase to 3,400 seats.

“We were right on the edge of being able to host playoff games last year in (Class) 6A and probably would have had to bring in outside seating if we had gotten to the semifinals to comply with the (Georgia High School Association) regulations,” Presnell said. “When we’re done with this, we’ll be able to host any playoff game in any classification, no matter what round we make it to.”

For Presnell, who has been involved in field maintenance for the city for two decades, it is a welcome change and one that he is glad to be a part of.

“This is one of the best places in the state to watch a high school football game. These improvements will only make it even better and give the players and fans one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in the state,” he said. “I’m really proud to be a part of this and make sure we do this right.”

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