January 14, 2018 12:08:36 AM
Brett Hudson - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- It wasn't part of the plan for the construction crews at Dudy Noble Field to get a two-week break around the turn of the new year, but weather gave one to them anyway.
After it all, David Bryant -- the project manager for JESCO, Inc., the company overseeing the renovation -- feels good about the timeline.
"We're dependent on this weather. We look good, we're in a position to finish it, but we don't have control of Mother Nature," Bryant said.
In The Dispatch's exclusive tour of the construction site this week, Bryant said the extreme cold in Starkville from around Christmas Day through the first week of January kept the crews from doing, "anything temperature-sensitive." Masonry, concrete and painting were all off-limits; using that time to install the outfield fence plus handrails around the outfield kept the project moving.
When the cold is not impacting construction, the crews are completing a final section of the lower deck stands and putting a protective coating over them, the final step in getting those ready to install seats. The crews have also made significant progress on the lighting for the lower bowl seats and have all the lighting for the field done.
The latter is of critical importance as they stay on timeline. Bryant told The Dispatch since the structure now has fully operational lights and a roof over the stands, crews can work odd hours if they choose. Bryant said there have already been some and there likely will be more in the future.
Some of those odd hours come as a reaction to weather, but others come on the back of last-minute changes.
Among the late changes have been a walkway behind the scoreboard and the centerfield area and a grass seating area down the right field line, in between the grandstands and the right field plaza. Bryant has taken them in stride.
"Just have to regroup. We all sit down and try to figure out the best way to get it done," Bryant said. "It's put a lot of pressure on everyone, but we have to do what we have to do. They've all been real good to work with. The communication is key."
Bryant credited Bobby Tomlinson, MSU's Associate Athletic Director for Facility Planning and Construction, and architect Wade Thompson for their communication through the changes.
With most of the true construction on what is required for the 2018 season done, the coming weeks will bring a lot of cosmetic progress: awnings on the right field plaza, the seats in the lower bowl, boxes for outfield lounge owners to use for storage, etc. Bryant said before the end of the month the outfield wall will have its padding, as that process is scheduled to begin Jan. 20 and take three to four days. Installing the nets around the grandstands will happen on the same timeline.
It all goes on with the deadline of Feb. 5 looming for the completion of Phase B. Phase A was the destruction of the old Dudy Noble Field; Phase B is building up and completing the parts of it that are required to be ready for the 2018 season; Phase C contains whatever the crews can get done while the team is on the road during the season; and Phase D is the construction over the offseason in between the 2018 and 2019 seasons that completes the stadium.
Bryant said there are parts where the crews are trying to get ahead on some Phase C work, including attempts to get a couple of permanent bathrooms in place for the season, which were not required as part of Phase B.
"The biggest thing we have to do after the ball games start (Phase C) is everything on the upper deck and everything behind the bleachers," Bryant said.
Bryant said Phase C and Phase D will be, "a lot less intense," than Phase B. Bryant added the contracts with Mississippi State require the construction teams have a presence at every home game in 2018 and 2019 to troubleshoot anything that may come up.
There's a part of Bryant that's just as excited to see than finished product as the man that will recruit to it, MSU coach Andy Cannizaro.
"Our players will not play in a finer facility until they play in the big leagues one day," Cannizaro said at the Starkville Rotary Club meeting last week, "and then it will depend which big league ballpark they play in, because I really think the new Dudy Noble Field is going to be nicer than half of the older big league ball parks."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson