Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of a $3.2 million redevelopment project that is several years in the making.
“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, a lot of meetings, a lot of talking to folks, a lot of adjustments and taking in everyone’s input,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. “It’s very satisfying that we’re finally here and very exciting to see.”
Serious planning for the stadium redevelopment project began nearly five years ago.
“We talked about it a lot,” said Steve Loftis, chairman of the Waterfront Stadium Committee. “Working down on the waterfront, I took a walk one day and just kind of felt like it was time that maybe we could do better.”
RELATED: See more photos from the ceremony at the Tribune photo gallery.
Community stakeholders began to brainstorm ideas, and eventually community meetings took place for the public to weigh in on what they wanted to see in a new stadium. A preliminary concept was developed based on those gathered ideas, which was again presented to the community for refinement before it was sent on to City Council for approval in 2014.
“We just kept moving forward,” Loftis said. “We were pretty determined to see this happen.”
The new design will have tiered grass seating, a volleyball playing surface, seasonal ice rink, areas for dancing, a permanent band shell, winter fire pits, concession stand, flagpoles and other amenities.
“I think it’s going to be very inviting to people 12 months out of the year,” McCaleb said. “It’s going to be very people-friendly and very versatile, and I’m excited for the things that are going to happen that we don’t even know yet.”
The project is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day 2018, with costs covered by charitable donations and a state grant.
“Steve (Loftis) always said, ‘The end of September, I want a shovel in the ground,’ and we accomplished that,” McCaleb said.
The new stadium is named after Lynne Sherwood, a local philanthropist who died in 2016. Sherwood and her family have been philanthropic supporters of the community for decades, and a $3 million gift from her estate helped kick off the redevelopment project.
Earlier this summer, city officials approved a grant agreement with the state to receive $280,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund. As part of the agreement, the city agreed to a $674,900 local match. The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation also announced this past August that the project had received a $25,000 gift from Fifth Third Bank.
“The community has been very supportive,” Loftis said. “City Council, the mayor, city manager, the state of Michigan, the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation have been very instrumental in what’s happened here, as well as Lynne Sherwood.”