By Oliver Lazenby
A Blaine school district board of directors work session on July 17 determined that many options remain for a new or updated grandstand at the football stadium – a project that was put on hold last year – but nothing will happen in the next three years.
Voters passed a bond in February 2015 that, along with additions to the primary school and high school, included a new high school grandstand to replace the current one, which is small and doesn’t meet some ADA guidelines. When bids on work at the high school came in over budget last June, the school board voted to scrap the new grandstand and proceed with the core high school facility construction.
The board left open the possibility of building a scaled-back version of the grandstands with money left over from the core high school facility. The budget included $2.1 million in contingency money. That’s significantly less than the $4.2 million that Spee West Construction, the low bidder and contractor on the core high school facility, bid to build the grandstands, but it’s enough to at least update and add to the existing stadium.
It’s still too early to tell whether any money will be left over from construction – the district might have a better idea after next summer, said superintendent Ron Spanjer – but district project manager Jim Kenoyer and finance director Amber Porter presented a range of options for a scaled-down grandstand at the July 17 meeting.
Those options include anything from making some upgrades to the current seating structure and adding seats to the visitor’s side of the stadium, to demolishing the concrete structure of the current grandstands and replacing it with a pre-built aluminum structure with capacity for up to 1,900 fans.
The current grandstands hold 1,200 people, and about 1,400 people on average attend games, said Alan Pomeroy, district facilities supervisor.
Spee West estimated the cheapest option would cost $1.3 million and the more expensive one would cost $2.6 million. The $2.6 million option also includes new restroom and concessions facilities. If nothing is added to the current facility, it will still need $400,000 to $500,000 in updates to address code issues.
The district could even go back to voters for a new bond with a plan more like the original one. On that option, Spanjer noted that property taxes will rise during the next four years for the state’s new school funding plan, and asking for more money could be difficult.
The original grandstand design called for a concrete and steel seating structure with about 1,900 seats, a concession stand with four serving windows, a press box with five rooms and restrooms with a total of 38 toilets and urinals.
The presentation didn’t include a recommendation to the board or a vote. Spanjer said district officials wouldn’t make a recommendation until they have a better idea of how much contingency money is left over from high school construction.