OLEAN – The grass is growing and the final touches around the fields are taking shape, proving that the end of the first phase of work in historic Bradner Stadium is nearing completion.
Now, with baseball players preparing to take to the field, sights have been set on the next project.
“This is truly an exciting time,” Brian O’Connell, president of the Olean Local Development Corp., said. “Think about where we were a year and a half to two years ago. Where we have come is a testament to a lot of people pulling their weight and getting things done. This is going to be great for the future.”
O’Connell was referring to a time when the stadium was an eyesore, generating critical comments from visitors. Members of the development corporation, together with O’Connell’s Olean Oilers baseball team, made a commitment to turn the stadium around and make it the gem it once was in the Southern Tier.
Now, just three weeks out from their home opener in the stadium, the Oilers will finally be able to call the stadium home.
The stadium also will be busy as the home to the Southern Tier Diesel amateur football team, Jamestown Community College Jaguars Soccer and Rally in the Valley.
Some users have had concerns about safety, specifically base anchors and fence protection. The original plan for bases would have had an exposed square metal pipe on the football field. That is no longer an issue.
The removable west fence, used as a home run fence for Oilers games, will be staying in place while the Diesel play football games. That fence, exposed, created a safety concern as it was only about 10 feet off the end line of the football field. That, too, has been modified.
Base anchors will not extend above the field surface and the fence will be covered with a black pad to ensure added protection.
The next phase of the facility, which will make it more complete and offer full amenities, will be the creation of a field house, housing locker rooms for players and officials, restrooms and a concession stand. The building is being proposed for the east end of the stadium, behind the bleacher area, according to Tom Windus, city public works director.
The challenge will be raising $500,000 for the facility. The current project already was allocated $1.5 million in city funds in March 2013.
Part of that plan will happen on May 30, when the field at Bradner Stadium will become a festival grounds for the second annual Bradner Bash. The festival will raise money to continue renovations on the facility. This year, the family-friendly event will take place from 5-11 p.m., with Jamestown-based Porcelain Bus Drivers performing in the evening.
The stadium will get its first sports use at 7 p.m. June 6 when Niagara Power comes to town to play the Oilers.
The following night, Southern Tier Diesel will take the field at 7 p.m. when the WNY Dragons, out of Amherst, will come down to play the first football game on the new field.