George Dilboy Memorial Stadium
The first public stadium to be built by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in four decades had to be something special, and the George Dilboy Memorial Stadium does not disappoint. Making use of many existing site elements, the new stadium lies along Alewife Brook in Somerville, Mass., and is the newest addition to a network of parklands and aesthetic facilities that flank the river.
Named after George Dilboy, the first Greek-American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the new stadium is made up of a new 2,000-seat grandstand structure with a fully handicapped-accessible pressbox, a fieldhouse building, and a concession and utility building. The centerpiece of the facility is its synthetic turf field, which is bounded by a 400-meter running track with associated field events.
The entry and control point for the facility occur along the west side of the grandstand, and the tall structure of the press box serves as a signal to patrons to lead them to the entry. Beneath the grandstands are the ticket booth, public restrooms and storage facilities.
Because the facility is located directly across from a residential neighborhood, it was important for the design team to focus on creating appropriate scale and selecting the right materials. Breaking the facility into three buildings helped to avoid a massive, dominating structure, which could overwhelm the neighborhood. In addition, the façade of the grandstand building is clad with brick and a decorative stainless steel screen, which hides the ugly underside of the bleachers from view.
The final plan made use of many of the existing infrastructure present already on the site. Minor work was performed on an existing parking lot to the north to meet peak parking demands and provide handicapped-accessible parking, as well as a safe path from the lot to the entry of the stadium. Reusing a previously paved parking lot helped the team avoid adding 95,000 square feet of additional pavement along the wetlands that border the brook.
To keep the buses dropping off teams from snarling traffic, the facility takes advantage of another parking lot along the southern edge of the site. This further led the design team to place the team room building along the south side of the grandstand structure.
Soil analysis conducted early on determined that there was not adequate structural bearing capacity for the grandstand structure without the use of concrete piles. With a limited, predetermined budget, the project could not support the added cost. Instead, the existing pile foundation system was reused.
The stadium was designed for maximum programming, and the addition of synthetic fields and lighting allows patrons to get plenty of use out of the facility. The synthetic field reduces maintenance costs while increasing programming capability, without the downtime normally required to repair natural turf fields. The field lighting system provides a range of lighting levels to allow for various activities—from evening football games to recreational walkers and joggers on the track.
"George Dilboy Memorial Stadium is perhaps the most heavily used public stadium in the Boston area," said Environmental Affairs Secretary for Massachusetts Robert W. Golledge Jr. in a press release "Thanks to a remarkable collaborative effort between DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation), DCAM (Department of Capital Asset Management), the contractor and private citizens who provided comments and feedback, this beautiful new facility will be a prominent symbol for the region, of which we can all be proud."
Because on-site staff is limited, it was important to design the building to be easily policed and managed. Beneath the grandstand, there are limited spaces available to the public. In addition, this area, the team room building and the concession building can be independently closed off depending on how the facility is being used at any given time.
While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts built the facility, the city of Somerville is responsible for staffing, scheduling, operations, maintenance and security.
The new stadium serves the local community by providing a track where local residents can run or walk, but it also provides a home for the city's high school teams. Word of the facility's success also has spread, and many regional events have now been planned for the stadium.