August 18, 2017 10:16:46 AM
STARKVILLE -- The demolition at Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium is complete. The next phase will feature the construction of additions to Mississippi State's historic baseball venue.
MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen told The Dispatch on Wednesday that crews have begun working on new portions of the stadium that are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018 season. More construction is scheduled for between the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
"They've gotten a lot of the early concrete work done," Cohen said. "The first major part of it was demolition, and they got all that done. Now they're doing a lot of concrete work, especially on the right-field side."
David Bryant -- the Dudy Noble renovation project manager for JESCO Inc., the contractor doing the construction -- told The Dispatch the crew has completed the foundation and the gray theme for the right-field plaza. With the brick that will surround portions of the plaza already laid, crews will put in the columns to form the entrance to the plaza.
Bryant said the plaza is part of Phase B, which includes the lower bowl of sets in the outfield. That work is scheduled to be completed by Feb. 5. Bryant said crews also are working on the center-field structure that will serve as a home to the turf management team and its equipment.
"We're very close to schedule. We were ahead of schedule until the recent rains, and now we're right at schedule," Cohen said. "If it rains anymore it could put us behind, so we're a little bit concerned about that."
Another important aspect is the facility's availability for the fall, when the NCAA allows baseball programs time to practice. Cohen is optimistic MSU won't have to take its fall practice on the road.
"We're trying to have grass on the surface by Sept. 15," Cohen said. "We feel like if it's down for four to six weeks, we believe the team will be able to practice on it.
"The surface is one of the priorities. We feel like that will be doable for our team to practice on during the course of the fall."
Bryant said the JESCO team is working with the group planting the grass, establishing a roadway for them to enter the grounds on the left-field side in fair territory. Bryant said JESCO controls everything outside of fair territory on the field until Dec. 1.
While balancing the demands of the grounds crew and the two outfield plazas, Bryant said the construction team is managing a few other projects.
"The storm drain and the sewer and water lines on the perimeter of the stadium are a big priority," Bryant said. "We're working on the foundation behind home plate. We're also doing retaining walls in the outfield for them to pour slabs (of concrete) for the rigs."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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