Kevin Stiner | November 23, 2021
“It Was a Sight You Wouldn’t Expect”
The story of how a major storm obliterated the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium press box, leading to the creation of a “temporary” structure that stood for almost 25 years – until now
On the morning of Nov. 22, 2021, construction crews removed the press box from atop Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium to make way for a more spacious and modern facility.
Its removal went much smoother than it did for its predecessor. For starters, this one was planned.
“What we assumed happened was the microburst hit it flush and the wind literally lifted it right off its base. One tumble landed on the bleachers, another tumble hit the railing, and another on the track.” Mike Andriatch
SUNY Brockport Vice President for Advancement Michael Andriatch was the College’s sports information director on Labor Day morning in 1998. Shortly after settling into his office and beginning preparation for the season-opening road football game against New Jersey City University, he received a phone call from Brockport football’s head coach Rocco Salomone.
Salomone asked Andriatch a strange question of whether he had seen the press box that morning. After poking and prodding for more information based on the peculiar question, Andriatch was encouraged to go see the press box.
“It was a sight you wouldn’t expect,” said Andriatch.
A rare microburst storm had torn through New York State that weekend toppling trees, downing power lines, and damaging properties. Winds were estimated to have reached 100 miles per hour throughout Western and Central New York during the intense thunderstorm.
Neither the Village of Brockport nor the college campus were spared destruction. The wind sent the stadium’s press box somersaulting down the front end of the bleachers, ultimately crashing into thousands of pieces on the track’s surface.
“The press box at that time was about 19 years old and had gone through all kinds of weather,” Andriatch said. “What we assumed happened was the microburst hit it flush and the wind literally lifted it right off its base. One tumble landed on the bleachers, another tumble hit the railing, and another on the track. It went to smithereens as they say.”
The facilities team acted fast and put up a temporary structure so the football team could host its home opening contest just weeks later. Except that it didn’t end up being so temporary. Over more than two decades, it housed athletic personnel for hundreds of football, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and track & field victories – culminating with the football team’s 20-7 victory over Washington & Jefferson in the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl Game on Nov. 20.
The original press box was installed in 1979 for the Fifth International Special Olympics Summer Games that hosted more than 3,500 athletes from across the world.
The New Press Box
The upgraded two-story press box will have a green exterior and cover 1,900 square feet, more than doubling the previous size. The beige interior will include windows to view events on both the east and west fields.
Multiple rooms for operations, media, and coaches will provide adequate space for visitors and staff. Additionally, a large VIP area will allow guests to comfortably watch athletic contests. An elevator will provide accessibility.
“I’m excited about having it up there and looking professional,” said Michael Baird, Brockport’s Associate Director of Planning and Construction. “I’m most looking forward to seeing everybody get what they deserve here at SUNY Brockport.”
Who remembers the previous one getting blown apart by a storm in Sept. of 1998??— TD Smythe (@TimDSmythe) November 23, 2021