Staying on track
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Only the slightest bit of worry hangs over an otherwise confident Garden City Community College administration in regards to the timeline for the building of the college's new athletics stadium.
Hellas Sports Construction, based in Austin, Texas, is currently on schedule to meet the Aug. 16 deadline for the completion of the facility — just in time for the Busters' football season opener at home on Aug. 24 against Independence. With the season approaching quickly, there's little room for error.
"Nervous is a good way to put it," said Ryan Ruda, the vice president of student services and athletics. "But we have every reason to believe that it will be ready."
Construction began in early June and has progressed steadily since then. However, the lights, turf and bleachers have yet to be installed, prompting Ruda's slight apprehension.
"We're constantly working on alternative plans," said Ruda, addressing what the school would do in the event that the field falls behind schedule. "But at this point, we're basing it on the assumption that the field will be ready."
New Busters head football coach Matt Miller echoed that statement, saying he has full faith that the field will be completed and ready for the Independence game.
"I got enough to worry about. I trust in the people that are building it, and I trust in Dr. (Herbert) Swender, (GCCC's president) that it will be done in time," said Miller, who mentioned that the prospect of playing in the brand new stadium has the program excited.
"We're all very pumped up about the stadium," he said. "The number one thing about it, though, it's not just for football. It's going to help out our soccer program, bringing back the track program because of it and for intramurals."
The $2.2 million stadium will host both football and soccer in the fall and the revived track and field program in the spring.
But it's that first home football game that has Miller and his team excited.
"I think the excitement is just going to be palpable. It's going to be tremendous, not only for my program and my players but for the community as a whole," he said.
The stadium will hold a capacity of 2,500 in the bleachers, with press boxes for coaches on both home and away sides of the field. As nice as the amenities are, it was safety that was the main concern for Miller and Ruda.
"The first thing is, we wanted a field that was safe and secure," Ruda said.
The new field will allow the Busters to discontinue playing at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Horace Good Middle School, formerly the campus of Garden City High School, where the playing field was "outdated," according to Miller, leaving players at risk of injury. Prior to the 2012 football season, GCHS and GCCC long shared Memorial Stadium. Once GCCC's new stadium is complete, both schools will have their own stadiums, making Memorial Stadium primarily a middle school stadium.
The new GCCC field will feature a synthetic turf that will endure hours of rain and still be playable safely, Miller said.
"It's nothing but a fantastic addition to the college," he said.
Miller and the school will now just have to wait until completion and then christen the stadium with the season opener.
"We're just ready to go and hopefully make it a fantastic season on that field," Miller said.
Even if the field is not ready in time, Miller says his team will be.
"I think my players would play in a parking lot," he quipped.