8/7/11 – Providence, RIAdapted from an article in the Providence Journal, written by Mike Szostak – Journal Sports Writer

The preseason clock is ticking. Tryouts and training camp for boys and girls soccer at La Salle Academy start in two weeks, but there is not a single blade of FieldTurf in sight, the new 1,800-seat grandstand is just beginning to take shape, and the new concession/restroom facility is still a shell.

Not to worry, La Salle officials say. The new multipurpose field will be ready in time for the soccer double sessions that begin on Aug. 22. The baseball outfield turf will be ready for football and soccer practice by the end of August. The concession stand will be open for business and the restrooms in operation on Sept. 2.

And on Friday night, Oct. 20, at halftime of the La Salle-South Kingstown football game, and in conjunction with La Salle’s 140th anniversary, La Salle will dedicate the new and improved John P. Cronin Fields.

“I can’t imagine how excited the kids will be when they come back,” Donald Kavanagh, La Salle’s executive vice president and principal, said last Thursday as he toured the construction site.

“Last spring, I still couldn’t picture it happening. Initially, it looked like a desert. They had ripped everything out. To see it come to fruition now is incredible.”

Demolition of the old Cimini Stadium began in May. Workers removed the grandstand, which is being reused in South America. They took down the lights and saved the towers for use in the new complex. They excavated 11,000 yards of loam, fill and concrete pilings from the original Cronin Field. They dug as deep as 11 feet beneath the location of the new grandstand. They stored 550 yards of loam to grade and seed the softball and weight-throw fields and about 200 yards for landscaping around the new turf fields.

New fill was installed as needed. The football/lacrosse/soccer field was topped with layers of crushed stone and then laser-graded for the installation of the artificial FieldTurf. Crushed rubber and fine sand will go down with the turf. The rubber, Nike Grind, is ground from scraps left over from the manufacture of shoes and shoes returned because of defects.

Turf installation should start soon, officials said. After the carpet is laid, specialists will cut out strips and stitch lines for football, soccer and boys lacrosse. Lines for girls lacrosse will be painted in the spring.

When finished, the field will be tested to ensure it was installed properly and meets engineering standards.

Last week, workers rolled a layer of fine membrane over dirt, and a grader spread crushed stone on the new baseball field. Finer grades of stone will be spread before the FieldTurf is installed. The only dirt on the new field will be the pitcher’s mound. Home plate and the base areas will be turf. Players will have to adjust their sliding technique, athletics director Ted Quigley said, so they do not slide beyond the bag.

A new six-lane all-weather track with eight lanes on the straightaway is also taking shape. A layer of asphalt was laid last week, and additional asphalt will be put down before a special crew sprays three coats of rubber. Another crew will paint lane lines and markings.

Concrete piers anchored 16 feet deep will support the light towers and the new banks of Musco lights. The towers can withstand 100 mph winds and the banks of lights 150 mph gusts. The lights with cutoff lenses are designed to minimize spillover to neighboring properties and night sky, or light that shines toward the sky. They are pre-set at the factory and the numbered bank must merely be matched with the corresponding tower. The individual bulbs are guaranteed for 25 years at 200 hours of use per year. The system will be computerized and operable by remote control from a computer or telephone.

Workers have raised the powder-coated steel supports for the grandstand and press box, which are on the opposite side of the old stadium, and will install the aluminum bleacher seats this week. A crane will lower the prefabricated press box to its supports. There will be seating for 1,800. Concrete pads have been poured and cured for smaller grandstands behind home plate and dugouts down the baselines. A dozen poles embedded in the concrete will support the 25-foot backstop.

Football goal posts were installed on Thursday. They are hydraulically operated so one person can lower the apparatus to the ground or turn it 180 degrees.

The Cronin Gates, unused for the last decade or so, will be refurbished and clad in fieldstone to match the exterior of the new concession and restroom facility. A row of plantings will cover the chain link fence now separating the La Salle complex from the Providence Water Supply Board.

Fencing will surround the playing field, and the track will provide a buffer between the grandstand and field. That enhanced security feature has generated conversations between the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and La Salle about the new stadium as a site for high-school soccer playoffs.

The estimated cost of this project is $4.4 million. Kavanagh said $1 million has been raised, and officials have not taken the campaign public yet.

Kavanagh added that the facility will have an impact on the entire La Salle community. The physical education curriculum has been revamped to take advantage of the first outdoor track in the school’s history.

Cronin Field will also be a focal point, the first significant piece of La Salle real estate that visitors will see when they enter from Academy Avenue and a facility visible from every building.

“It’s going to look like a college campus,” Kavanagh said.