As part of his Administration’s commitment to providing Bayonne youth with the finest sports and recreational facilities, Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that major renovations are planned for Don Ahern Veterans Memorial Stadium and the land around it. Mayor Smith said, “We are very excited to announce that the playing fields and other facilities in the stadium complex will be modernized and expanded. These significant renovations will improve the quality of the playing surface, add a junior soccer field, and increase the spectators’ enjoyment of the games. Renovating the stadium complex is a major commitment of the City of Bayonne. The completion of this construction will be a signature project of our Administration. Thanks to grant money and insurance proceeds, we will be able to accomplish all of this at no cost to the local property taxpayers.”
City Council President Terry Ruane said, “This stadium complex renovation project is a win for the taxpayers and a big win for the youth of Bayonne. This state-of-the-art facility will accommodate several different types of sports played here in town. I am very excited about supporting these plans.”
The funding for project is coming from several sources. These include funds from Spectra Energy in the form of a $1.1 million grant. Additional funding will come from insurance proceeds from hurricane damage, other donations, and Open Space grant funds.
The City plans call for replacing natural grass at the stadium with artificial field turf. There will also be a walking path made of field turf around the stadium. A new soccer field will be developed alongside the main playing field. The main field is used extensively, and its natural grass playing surface requires constant maintenance. Even with regular care, the current natural grass field becomes muddy and unusable. The playing surface is low-lying, located by NewarkBay, and is subject to flooding. The area was inundated during Hurricane Sandy. That is why City officials emphasize the need for drainage improvements in their vision for the field.
The existing stadium lights will be replaced with new, state-of-the-art illumination that will provide better and safer lighting. The bleachers around the baseball diamond will be renovated, complete with handicapped-accessible areas. A new ticket booth, restrooms, and concession stands are included. The stadium will also be complemented by a storage shed for maintenance equipment, and a new entrance wall.
At the City Council meeting on March 19, Maser Engineering, a firm under contract to the City, estimated that roughly six months of construction would be involved in completing the renovations. Maser’s representatives suggested that construction during the winter months would be the least disruptive to the various high school and soccer league teams that use the stadium complex.
The original Veterans Memorial Stadium was built in 1966. The existing field was developed in time for the City of Bayonne’s centennial in 1969. The name of the late football coach and Council Member Don Ahern was added to the original stadium in 1996. That concrete structure was replaced by the current aluminum stadium in 2000-2001.
On March 19, the City Council voted to authorize the City to advertise for bids for the stadium improvement project.