Remodeling Whitney

The cracks and bubbles in the track at Whitney Stadium are beyond noticeable. The breaks in the structure's concrete stands continue to grow larger and more obvious. Every year by early October, the grass field begins to break down from the wear ...

The cracks and bubbles in the track at Whitney Stadium are beyond noticeable.

The breaks in the structure's concrete stands continue to grow larger and more obvious.

Every year by early October, the grass field begins to break down from the wear and tear of the three run-orientated football teams that call the stadium home.

The list of reasons why the 36-year-old football and track and field stadium on the Dickinson State University campus needs a facelift goes on and on.

"It's definitely the worst track we run on during the year," Dickinson State track and field coach Pete Stanton said.


With Whitney Stadium's track inching closer to condemnation and the needs of athletes, fans and workers expanding, DSU President Dr. Lee Vickers is helping the college spearhead a multi-faceted effort to fix the landmark.

Vickers said remodeling Whitney Stadium isn't just needed - it's expected.

"The expectations today are that you have this kind of first-class facility," Vickers said. "So we're going to make this happen."

However, with the changes DSU wants to make to the facility comes a daunting $10 million price tag.

Without a target date for groundbreaking or completion in site, DSU boosters who want to see the project get off the ground have made fundraising and uniting the groups that use Whitney Stadium their top priority.

"It's much, much bigger than just remodeling a football stadium," Vickers said. "It has a direct impact on the business community."

Vickers is hoping to create what he calls a "joint-powers agreement," between the city of Dickinson, Stark County, DSU's boosters and University Foundation, the Dickinson Public and Catholic school systems, the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department and the Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The plans are in place too.


The initial remodeling blueprints were created by Hulsing and Associates architectural firm of Dickinson. Now, Minneapolis-based consulting firm Bentz, Whaley and Flessner are reviewing the plans and looking to ease financial burdens.

"I'm confident we will put together a package that we can sell," Vickers said. "Now it's time to put together a plan to finance it and get it done as quickly as possible."

One look at the blueprints and the package could almost sell itself.

The plans created by Hulsing and Associates are a striking contrast to the current stadium - and it all starts at the ticket booth.

Hulsing's blueprints call for a new, larger building to house ticket booths, concession stands, improved restrooms and storage. There's also enough space that the stadium could accommodate small trade or car shows.

The building would still be used as a gateway to the stadium, where the fans and athletes would find themselves in a new world.

Current plans have the bleachers running from goal line to goal line, giving the stadium outdoor seating for approximately 4,000 fans.

In the second level of the building, there would be a new press and scorekeepers box as well as the indoor seating for approximately 350 fans.


"That would not be fancy skyboxes, but it is an attempt to provide some seating indoors for those individuals who simply don't want to bear the cold," Vickers said.

However, the most shocking change would be on the field itself.

The school wants to replace the current grass field with FieldTurf, a synthetic turf that feels like real grass.

DSU football coach Hank Biesiot has bought into the idea of FieldTurf because of current drainage problems.

"It's a nice playing facility. You find where it's deteriorated by use or erosion or whatever you find," Biesiot said. "It needs some updating. It's still a very good field, but it's not the same field it was 20 years ago."

Also in the plans, but not finalized are on-site locker rooms that would house DSU, Dickinson High and Dickinson Trinity's football teams. DSU Athletic Director Roger Ternes said there are currently more than 400 DSU athletes and only 269 lockers.

The addition of Whitney Stadium locker rooms would alleviate the burden of housing the football and track teams in the same locker rooms as the men's basketball and wrestling teams.

"We need some more space on campus, so we would make that our home for track and football," Ternes said.


Ternes said he also likes the idea of installing FieldTurf, simply because of the increased number of games the stadium could then host.

"Everybody understands we need this, especially anybody who has interest in anything from youth activities to high school sports, college sports," Ternes said.

However, the process of fundraising and putting together the joint-power agreement are still in the infant stages.

Vickers believes the time table needs to speed up soon if those involved want to breathe new life into the faithful facility.

"There is a sense of urgency, regarding particularly the track," Vickers said. "The track was resurfaced three years ago, but the cracks have reappeared to the point now where it's just a very bad situation for those who have to run on it."

"We need to address that immediately. If we resurface it again, it's really a waste of money."

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