Amanda Bernocco Staff Writer
LIU Post scheduled Hickox Field to be renovated by July 1. However, as of March, the restorations have been postponed due to zoning regulations. The university is currently awaiting clearance.
“We were hoping the renovations would be starting by now, but we are awaiting permits,” said LIU Post Provost, Paul Forestell.
Before beginning construction, LIU Post has to have approval from the zoning board of the village of Old Brookville. The university submitted a 25-page plan to the Village of Brookville’s Building Department on August 23, 2012.
The village, according to Forestell, is concerned with the noise parameter and height requirements of the project. The village has a height restriction of approximately 32 feet, and the bleachers in the Hickox Field improvement plan exceed the limit by 10 feet. In order to go through with the plan, Post needs to be awarded variance by the village, which is causing the delay in the renovations.
Bryan Collins, athletic director and football coach at Post, said that the village seems most concerned about the noise that will come from the new loudspeakers; however, he added that they are not going to be louder than the ones currently in place. If Post doesn’t receive variance for the height requirement, Collins said they might have to remove the top few rows on the bleachers.
Representatives from Post have been appearing at the village meetings in attempt to speed up the process in getting the permits, said Forstell. These representatives are from the University Council; Jim Murphy, attorney for Post, and William Kirker, facilities services according to Collins.
“There was a need to renovate the stands since I became provost in 2008,” Forstell said. He said that the stands are old, unattractive and unsafe.
The bleachers on the far side of the field, according to Collins, were original bleachers from the first football field on the campus in 1950. The location of the field moved since then, but the bleachers were transported.
“These bleachers [on the opposite side of the field] are from 1965, the understructure and the cement footing and the rusted steel that is underneath obviously becomes a safety issue that we are extremely concerned about. Also, the codes of what bleachers should be are not up to standards,” Collins said. He adds that the only reason that the bleachers are still standing is because they were grandfathered in.
Besides the age of the bleachers, according to Collins, they are also unsafe due to the open spaces underneath the seats where fans could fall and get hurt. In addition, there is no handicap access and they are uncomfortable for fans to sit on for the duration of a game, he added.
The renovation plans would provide new fencing and concrete around the perimeter of the field, draining systems, bathrooms, a loudspeaker system and a press box. There would also be three sections in the new bleachers that will have backs on the chairs. Additionally, the bleachers will be wheelchair accessible for the first time.
Some students and faculty at Post are showing positive feelings toward the idea of renovating the field, despite the delay in construction.
“I support any improvement at Post,” said Harry Wittig, staff member at the Information Technology office, referencing how much he liked the recent improvements made to the Hillwood Café.
Similarly, Bridgett Soares, senior lacrosse player, said, “It’ll be nicer, nicer seats, so I guess more people would come. When you think about that you have to think about the different sports. For our sport, I don’t think it would really matter, but for football maybe a little more.”
Collins agrees that the renovations will likely improve the audience size and atmosphere at games in the athletic stadium. “There is an excitement when there’s a new facility. People want to go some place and have a comfortable seat,” added Collins.
The expected duration of construction, according to Collins, was four months. William Kirker, head of the Facilities Department, declined to comment about the construction and directed the Pioneer to Rita Langdon of the Public Relations Department. Langdon has not responded to the Pioneer’s request for the name of the contractor. Although Collins suggested that there might already be a company chosen to renovate the fields, Forestell said that it’s not finalized yet.
The Athletic Department has raised about $2 million so far to pay for the renovations of the stadium through the use of a fundraising campaign. However, the total cost of the renovations is estimated to be $4 million. Many of the donors, according to Collins, were football alumni. Some members of the community bought a brick, which costs $500 a piece. The university agreed to help pay for the field by matching the amount of money the athletic department earned.
The naming rights of the field are still yet to be bought. Forestell said that there are a few prospects that the university is working with; however, they have not found someone yet. The naming rights are being sold for $1.5 million. Forestell feels that it is inappropriate to release whom the prospects are until it’s finalized.
Hickox Field is currently being used for men’s and women’s lacrosse. When construction begins, Collins arranged for the women’s home games to be played on a field in Oyster Bay and the men’s games to be played next door at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Collins said that he is anticipating that the renovations will be done before the first home football game in the fall on September 14.
Although the construction may inconvenience the teams while the renovations are going on, Collins believes that the end result will be beneficial to the fans. “I think successful teams give pride to the school and get fans out. If fans have to sit on bleachers where they’re getting splinters or fiber glass splinters in their legs and the bees are stinging them and it’s very hot—I think that’s not an enjoyable venue for our students and our fans to watch,” Collins said. “But if it’s something that’s new, that’s nice, that’s clean and you go there and you have a good experience and you see that the Post teams are winning, I think it’s great for Post as a university,” he added.