Group not giving up on new field house at D-B

Matthew Lane • Feb 12, 2014 at 8:46 PM

KINGSPORT — A citizen’s group that has strongly pushed for the renovation of J. Fred Johnson Stadium remains very hopeful it will be able to come up with the funds to build a 1,200-square-foot dressing room on the property — an item that was removed from the city’s portion of the project.

The stadium project calls for the addition of 1,500 seats to the grandstand, a new two-story press box, new restrooms and areas for concessions, improved handicapped accessibility, wider aisles with handrails, an elevator and covered concourses.

Work began last fall and in the latest update to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, underground utility work is ongoing, the existing bleacher seats have been shortened to widen the access stairways and the installation of the helical piles is scheduled to start this month.

The contract calls for the project to be completed by Oct. 31.

Due to bids coming in more than $1 million over budget last summer, the BMA argued for the project costing no more than $4.4 million. Ultimately, the city found a company willing to do the work for $4.59 million, but this meant the 1,200-square-foot dressing room/field house near first base would have to be removed from the overall project.

Local developer Danny Karst and Kingsport attorney Todd East — the de facto public figures of the citizen’s group — agreed to lead the effort in finding the funds for the field house. The two men have said all along, if the money for the material is found, their equipment and sweat equity would help build the field house.

“We’re trying to get to the specifics and make sure everyone is on the same page and in agreement with what needs to be done,” East said, noting the group recently met to confer on the field house’s final location — adjacent to the bullpen along the first base side.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Thursday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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