Madison High will begin construction of a new football stadium in November

MARSHALL – While Madison High football team will not play home games at OE Roberts Stadium this fall after engineers condemned the stadium in April, the team will open the 2023 season in a renovated stadium.

The school board has contracted LS3Pa multidisciplinary company based in Greenville, South Carolina, which offers architectural, interior design and planning services, to complete the design layout of the stadium renovations.

Scott Donald, senior project manager at LS3P, presented the schematic plans to the Madison County School Board at its June 27 meeting at central office.

The stadium renovations include:

  • Replacement of reception and visitor stands.
  • Toilets have been added to the press room, along with electrical upgrades, improved drainage along the stadium’s upper concourse with new walking surfaces and disabled access with stunning views of the playing field.
  • New locker rooms for our soccer program and visiting teams.
  • A new track.
  • Additional parking for buses and cars behind Madison High School’s science wing.
  • Indoor batting cages and pitching facilities for baseball and softball programs.

Accessibility was central to solving the stadium’s problems, according to superintendent Will Hoffman.

“Based on the results of additional technical analyzes of the entire stadium that took place up to 2019, and in particular the eastern third of the stadium, resulted in this section being closed for safety reasons,” Hoffman said. “In addition, the 49-year-old stadium does not currently have toilets in the press box, which adds an increased burden to our visitors, especially elderly and disabled participants. There are multiple tripping hazards in the stadium and the entire upper hall has serious drainage problems.”

Thanks in part to a $2.5 million state grant, Madison High School will begin construction on stadium renovations — which include a new track surface — beginning in November.

Madison High Stadium History

On April 27, the structural engineering firm Kloesel Engineering PAbased in Asheville, condemned the bleachers at the stadium, citing “significant structural flaws”, including severe corrosion of the steel brackets supporting the precast concrete bleachers.

In June 2018, Kessel Engineering Group PLLC carried out an engineering site visit to the stadium, which was built in 1972. In a letter to the school board, the company said the precast assembly concrete had suffered moderate degradation to severe and exhibited “significant signs of distress/deterioration.”

“Furthermore, it appears that the floors beneath the pre-engineered assemblies are likely exerting lateral pressures on the retaining wall at the base of the stadium and causing it to rotate outward,” the June 2018 letter said.

According to Donald, the new aluminum grandstands should solve the problem of erosion.

“The new aluminum system is pretty much watertight,” Donald said. “You can control the drainage. What you have now here, the prefab leaks really badly, so all the rain just goes through. That’s what caused all the erosion.”

In an April 27 letter to schools in Madison County, Kloesel Engineering, PA recommended that the school system discontinue use of the grandstand bleachers on the home side of the stadium.  The company included this photo in its letter to Superintendent Will Hoffman.

Ever since Hoffman became superintendent on July 1, 2018, a new stadium has always been a top priority.

“To say we’re excited is an understatement,” Hoffman said. “We felt obligated to our students and families to see this project through. We are not a school system that simply had these resources. And, persevering through a global pandemic along the way, was like that ramp unexpected release. But our community kept the faith, we raised funds, we were patient throughout the architectural design phases and we relied on our community partners to help us when needed.”

Funding

Madison County residents supported the school system’s effort to build a new stadium by voting to pass, according to Hoffman. Section 46, a quarter-cent increase in sales tax, in March 2020.

“Sales tax revenue provided the Board of Education with the resources to contract with PFA Architects in the fall of 2020 to conduct a capital needs study of all facilities in the school system,” Hoffman said. “The study cited the stadium as the number one facility priority in the school district. After reviewing the capital needs study, in the fall of 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to approve a special allocation in the 2022-23 budget bill to Madison County Schools for $2.5 million for stadium repairs.”

Chronology

The team will send construction documents to the Department of Public Instruction by July 15 and await a six-week review from the DPI.

By September, the school system will approve construction offers. Around the same time, a notice to proceed on items that do not affect football matches will take place.

Construction will begin in November, with an expected end date of July 15, 2023.

Construction of the stadium stand would take place from November 2022 to August 2023, with the stadium ready for football and spectators in August 2023, according to Donald.

Madison High’s football team will play its home games this fall at Mars Hill University’s Meares Stadium.

According to Madison County Schools athletic director Rex Wells, Madison will still play its football games at OE Roberts Stadium.

Wells said Patriots fans will now be on the visiting side and the school plans to deploy portable bleachers on the track in front of the home bleachers for opposing fans.

“It would be a great improvement for schools in Madison County, and like many high schools in our state, the stadium is essentially the center of the community and functions as a community gathering place,” Donald said. “Safety and accessibility are top priorities for all stakeholders in this project.”

The superintendent said he hopes the community enjoys the renovations to the new stadium.

“It’s a big project for us and I believe our community will be happy with the outcome.

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