Mickster started it

Swamp Paradise: proposed new Greenwich High School Stadium

Swamp Paradise: proposed new Greenwich High School Stadium

Just to bring the New Year in early and divert us from this day’s glad tidings, the Mick has brought to our attention that Greenwich is moving toward ripping out the carpets on the high school’s athletic fields and replacing them with a new form of artificial turf that they hope will be less toxic, although the existing rubber composite fields have never been shown to be so – it’s the stuff underneath the carpet that’s poisonous, and that would, for now, remain in place. They’ve committed $850,000 to this endeavor, but as Mickster asks, “What’s the chance they test the old sod and they find crap and it ends up costing $5 million?” Other than the laughable idea that the new fields will end up costing just $5 million, he’s got a good point.

But wait, there’s more! Last week we learned that the school administration has earmarked $40,000 for a feasibility study” of an entirely new stadium.

As part of the capital budget they approved this week for the next school year, the Board of Education endorsed a $40,000 “feasibility” study for consultants to identify potential improvements to the stadium.

The stadium is a Greenwich institution that attracts thousands to big events like football games and graduation ceremonies. But many who use the four-decade-old facility say it lacks basic amenities and needs to be spruced up.

What do these people think the term “spruced up” means? To quote “Princess Bride”, I don’t that word means what they think it means.

Among its limitations, the stadium lacks a building where teams can gather before games and during halftime breaks. At the moment, players and coaches either have to stay out on the field or trek between the field and the locker rooms in the high school’s main building. The same routine goes for trainers, since there is no treatment room at the stadium.

“Obviously, that’s not an ideal situation,” said Gus Lindine, the high school’s athletic director. “Giving teams a place to gather prior to games and during the halftimes of games would certainly be something that would benefit us.”

There are also drawbacks for spectators. Many Cardinals fans lament the lack of permanent bathrooms. Visitors have to settle for portable toilets — with long lines forming during football games and graduation ceremonies.

The stadium study would also likely look at the pedestrian access to the stadium. The hilly walk up from the parking lot to the playing field challenges less-mobile visitors.

Many want to see a larger concession stand that would allow for a better menu. And John Marinelli, the school’s head football coach, said he would be interested in a new, larger scoreboard.

“Westport, Darien, and New Canaan all have brand-new beautiful scoreboards, and I know that it’s something we’re looking at here as well,” Marinelli said. “The scoreboard helps keep you in tune with the game. It’s just really important for the atmosphere of the community.”

The stadium itself is showing signs of wear and tear. Rust covers the undersides of many of the seats in the main bleachers. At the top of the stands, peeling white paint lines the outside frame of the sagging press box.

So, a new training building, with bathrooms, for both visiting and home teams alike. New, permanent bathrooms for 3,500 spectators. A new concession stand. A new, “beautiful” scoreboard, new bleachers, new press box, and in fact, an entirely new stadium – welcome to Texas, where they take their football seriously, goddamnit. If you appeared before our Planning and Zoning Board with building plans like these and argued that you were merely seeking permission to “spruce up” your home, you’d be sent packing faster than you could bribe our town clerk.

How much will all this cost? Who cares? “This is a necessary health and safety improvement,” Peter Tesei says, and if it save the life of just one child …

But fear not, “to offset taxpayers’ bill for the improvements, school officials want to recruit private donors to help pay for the upgrades.

“There is a long list of potential contributors given the large number of teams that use the venue.

“A fundraising campaign in recent years for the high school’s new MISA performing-arts center represents a model for a public-private partnership, school officials said. Community members have pledged some $1.2 million towards MISA, which has a total price tag of about $46 million. 

Wow. And I’m sure we can count on the Junior League to contribute at least another $200,000.



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20 responses to “Mickster started it

  1. Anonymous

    Misa gets used 8 times per year. The stadium gets used 80 times per year. The stadium has NO bathrooms and locker rooms. It is a joke.

    • L. Francis Herreshoff, perhaps the most famous yacht designer of our time, opined that a plain cedar bucket was all that was needed for receiving our daily efforts. Surely a town like Greenwich, with its rich seafaring heritage, can do no better than to heed his advice.

    • Anonymous

      Huh? First of all, it gets used every single day for band classes and for the big chorus classes.
      Orchestra, chorus and band each have a minimum of 4 concerts as part of their curriculum so thats 12 concerts plus 12 rehearsals not including festivals and special showcases.
      The spring musical adds in a week of performances.
      SRO is multiple nights.
      Now that they have the capacity, the school is using it more for grade level activities, meetings, etc.
      This isn’t stadium vs MISA. Both are important. Something had to come first and since band, orchestra, and chorus are graded classes, it made sense to do the auditorium and severely sub-standard and non-existant classrooms. Curriculum before extra-curricular activities.

      • Anonymous

        12 concerts, sorry, off by 4. My point is one venue used much less and in much better shape than the other venue.

        The greasy wheel got oiled and the tax payer got hosed.

        • Anonymous

          The auditorium is in use almost every single block, everyday, for classes. Classes that have grades that go towards your GPA including many honors level classes. Classes come before extra-curricular sports. And if you added up all the rehearsals, concerts, symphonies, plays, and other events, it gets used just as much, if not more, then the stadium.
          The stadium needs a facelift, a few bathrooms (if and only if the water lines and sewer lines can be run easily without disturbing more toxic waste), and a team room. They’d be better off bringing in a few food trucks for concession stands when needed though instead of building something.

        • Anonymous

          My point is the previous concert hall was fine for classes and concerts. I attend 4 per year. I also attend sporting events at the stadium. The stadium is a crumbling mess. It has NO bathrooms. It is inaccessible for grandparents. We didn’t need to spend $50M so the Greenwich Symphony has better acoustics.

  2. Needs more private luxury boxes.

  3. Anonymous

    Mickster is on top of it! Did the schools already remediate all the other high school fields that the EPA states needs to be done? We haven’t even begun to pay that bill. On top of that—this is a real Love Canal of projects.

    It is truly in short time that the differences between Westchester taxes and Greenwich is slim.

    Oh, and if we let the Dems have their borrowing ways—these projects will be entirely left to pay be the next generation so that there is really no cost to the current taxpayer.

    • Anonymous

      the Dems???? Last time I checked, the majority of selectmen are GOP, and the other town boards are split 50/50. Call it a joint fiasco…with the majority on the GOP side. However, the Love Canal analogy is a good one.

      • Anonymous

        Democrats write one OpEd after another asking for more long term borrowing….so that they can SPEND MORE today….because there are so many ESSENTIAL projects on hold such as new $15 million pools and $46 million auditoriums.

  4. Riverside Dog Walker

    Frankly, I think the more interesting piece of the article is $650,000 for ‘studies of building infrastructure and athletic fields.’ These people can’t do their job, have to hire consultants to do it for them, and then can’t figure out how to get it done when it is spelled out what needs to be done.

    “School board Chairman Laura Erickson pointed to three projects that she said accounted for the approximately $1.5 million in extra spending on routine projects: $850,000 to install new field turf at Greenwich High School’s Cardinal Stadium; $600,000 for a master plan to study the building infrastructure at all of the district’s schools and $50,000 for a study of the athletic facilities at the high school and the district’s three middle schools. None of those initiatives would become recurring expenses, she said.” From Greenwich Time

    It makes me feel so much better that these items are not recurring expenses.

    • Richard

      That’s why com men always let the marks keep a little money. That lets them feel like it could have been worse.

    • Maitre d'Oyer et Terminer

      Oh but they will be, just not every year. It is in the nature of the crooked to steer projects toward their friends. Projects will be shelved. New studies will need to be made and so on in a never ending circle jerk.

  5. Anyone who has ever had the chance to visit many of the other stadiums in Fairfield County will realize that Cardinal Stadium, to be kind, is a disgrace. But quite frankly I’m sick and tired of the reckless spending in this town and my taxes constantly going up. Like mentioned before, whatever is budgeted, ultimately it will cost 5 to 10 times to bring the project to completion.

  6. Greenwich Taxpayer

    It is HIGH SCHOOL, not a professional team! Back in the old days if we had to go to the bathroom they let us in to the school to go. I am sick of our taxes going to support these OUTRAGEOUS projects. People should get out to speak at the BET Budget hearings to voice their outrage – unfortunately no one does and all you hear are the pro-MISA, pro-stadium types from PTAC and the Junior League and then Tesei says he has a “mandate”. Have you been in the new auditorium? $46 plus million – it is a not worth it and I want my taxpayer money back. IT IS RIDICULOUS to say that private parties will donate money when we all know that is NOT going to happen on a large scale. The Town does it half-assed backward – fund the whole project because no one will donate if they don’t. How about getting the money up front to see what we are dealing with. STOP THE INSANITY!

    • Anonymous

      You are correct. If one is against the spending, you HAVE to voice your opposition to the BET and RTM. The only voices that are loud on these issues are the advocates. Pissing off on some blog about the town going to the dogs does nothing.

      Greenwich athletic facilities are known to be inferior compared to other towns’. Our HS is an eyesore. Just ask a parent from Darien or New Canaan what their impression of GHS is.

      Sadly, it was a mistake to prioritize a pool, MISA, a new firehouse, a new police station, etc. But if one’s objective was to get all these projects through, it makes sense to save the most important to last, as it is hardest to stop the most pressing projects. If all of these were publicized at once, it would have been easier to shelve the lower priorities.

      The problem with these projects is that the scope gets out of hand. Although GHS facilities are inferior, the need for a new scoreboard is questionable. Nonetheless, I’m sure it’ll be in the final design.

  7. Do Not Disturb

    Sounds like a few bathrooms, a scoreboard, and a garden catering outpost is really all that is “needed”.
    The track and the turf are in terrific shape.
    There is nothing toxic about the turf until you hit 110 degrees at field level, and last time I checked maybe once every 10 years for one afternoon in July it hits that.
    School open for games in July?

  8. CatoRenasci

    Even though this isn’t Texas, Greenwich parents loves their high school football….. you know that this thing will pass. Though I think there will be some pushback at the RTM, just not enough.

  9. Don

    Port Chester residents just soundly defeated yet another outrageous bond attempt. Which included money for a special practice room for the High School band, a tunnel from the special practice room to the field. And all sorts of modifications to the High School field, such as new grandstands.