Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
St. Marys residents see first plans for stadium
  ST. MARYS - Architects presented residents with the initial plans for the new athletic complex scheduled to be completed by the 2012 football season during a special meeting Tuesday. The current base cost of the plan is $4 million to $4.95 million.
School officials hope to have money raised to pay for the football/soccer facility by June.
Nearly 60 residents attended the meeting, asking about fundraising, design aesthetics and synthetic turf versus grass. The biggest concern seemed to be how they are going to raise enough money. Residents asked what would happen if they didn't get the money raised and the project stopped half way through.
Bill Baker of MSA Sport of Cincinnati, the firm designing the complex, said they would complete the necessities first (the field and the stands) to make the field usable. Then they would continue with the rest of the plans.
Included in the base cost will be fully separated home and visitor sides with separate parking lots (approximately 1,500 total spaces), ticket booths, concessions, restrooms and 4,295 permanent seats (a maximum of 5,000 with removable seats).
The stadium with football/soccer fields and locker rooms would be built around the existing track, located behind the new middle/high school. The current home-side stands at Skip Baughman stadium, located next to the old school, would be moved and used as the visitor stands.
The base cost also will include six-pole lighting with television broadcast light levels, a first class audio system, multiple practice fields, moving the current scoreboard at Skip Baughman to the new field and eventually widening Shipman Road.
Extra amenities being considered in addition to the base cost include five tennis courts for Ohio High School Athletic Association competitions, costing $200,000 to $450,000, and a synthetic turf field, costing $500,000 to $625,000.
Grass turf would cost $150,000 to $175,000 and is included in the base cost, Baker said. Synthetic turf needs to be replaced every 10 to 12 years, but it would bring in additional revenue as the field would be eligible for football playoff games.
Construction would be completed in phases as funding becomes available, Baker said. Although the school has $221,260 set aside in the permanent improvement fund to cover MSA's fee, the school plans to raise all the money to cover the $4 million construction cost.
In the timeline agreed on by MSA and the school, the fundraising campaign began this month and will last until June.
"We have not formalized (the fundraising) committee yet," Superintendent Mary Riepenhoff said. "We still need to figure out what fundraising will be done. It's still in its infancy stages."
Formal construction plans are planned to be drawn up later this summer, with bids accepted and awarded in September and October. Construction would begin shortly thereafter, Baker said. If all goes according to plan, the stadium would be ready for opening night, August 2012, he said.
The presentation to residents at Tuesday night's meeting will be put on the school website in the next day or two, Baker said. Anyone interested in donating can contact Riepenhoff at 419-394-7278.
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