Home Local Sports Despite COVID-19 pandemic, Salesianum School remains confident that Abessinio Stadium will open...

Despite COVID-19 pandemic, Salesianum School remains confident that Abessinio Stadium will open on time

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This aerial photo of Abessinio Stadium was taken on April 21. Salesianum School, which is overseeing the work, is in the upper right. (Photo courtesy of Salesianum School)

Work on Abessinio Stadium in Wilmington has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and although business closures have caused a few glitches, it should be ready to open this fall as planned, Salesianum School president Brendan Kennealey said April 22.

“Things are still good, schedule-wise,” Kennealey said. “The schedule has always been tight. This (the pandemic) provides additional challenges, but as of right now we’re still looking at a late September, early October completion date.”

Work continues at Abessinio Stadium in Wilmington. This photo from April 17 shows the structure that will house the press box and other offices and facilities. (Dialog photo/Don Blake)

With some businesses being closed in nearby states, the general contractor, Whiting-Turner, has had to look elsewhere for other options, he explained. Thus far, the contractor has been able to keep things progressing.

To an outside observer, work at the stadium — which is rising where Baynard Stadium once stood — may look at bit haphazard. As of April 22, four light standards had been erected, as has the outline of the press box building. Work progresses on the field itself, and a section of bleachers is in place. According to Kennealey, the crews are working on sections to take best advantage of the availability of the various subcontractors, such as masons and ironworkers.

“It is very well-coordinated. It is a very complicated dance of balancing the various subcontractors,” he said. “While it may look like a lot of things are happening in different places, a lot of that is done to maximize efficiency.”

One result of the COVID-19 pandemic was that a math class could not use work at the stadium as part of its curriculum. Also, some Salesianum athletes lost the opportunity to visit the site.

The first event scheduled for Abessinio Stadium is a Salesianum football game against Appoquinimink on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The school’s soccer team is scheduled to host Brandywine there the next night and has a total of five games at Abessinio, including an Oct. 10 showdown against national power and annual foe St. Benedict’s Prep. Kennealey said St. Elizabeth and Howard high schools both have games scheduled at the new stadium.

“We basically blocked out those schedules and then for the city of Wilmington, we blocked off time for them,” he said.

Kennealey added that Salesianum would rather have everything done by the time the public steps inside the gates.

“We don’t want to have major sections unfinished. We want to enjoy the grand opening as the grand opening.”