Bond issue considered for new stadium

Pickerington Central’s football stadium at Ridgeview Junior High is not wide enough to hold a regulation-size soccer field, is one lane short to hold track meets and lacks enough stands to hold the football fans.

The facilities review committee is considering a bond issue for a new stadium, but Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia has requested the committee wait.

This spring, the school district will have a 0.5 mill levy for building maintenance on the ballot and "I don’t want any other side issues," Mantia said.

The spring issue would extend an existing maintenance levy that collects approximately $11 per year from the owner of a $100,000 home.

The state plans to award the district $50 million to improve older buildings through the installation of new heating and air conditioning units and fire sprinklers. However, the state will not give any money to the district unless Pickerington proves it has the means to care for the new equipment for at least 23 years.

The spring ballot issue would extend a current 0.5 mill maintenance levy that falls 10 years short of the 23 year requirement.
By extending the levy, the district would would receive its $50,000 from the state.

The district also will seek a levy in 2010 to avoid a budget deficit of nearly $13 million in 2011, Griscom said.

To build a new football stadium, district treasurer Dan Griscom calculated how much it would cost residents based on three different price ranges: $5 million, $10 million and $15 million.

He recommended that the bond would last 28 years, which is the industry standard.

Based on his calculations, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $8 per year for the $5 million stadium, $15 per year for a $10 million stadium, and $23 per year for a $15 million stadium.

A bond issue "is like a mortgage on your house," Mantia said. "I wish my mortgage was only $30 per year (for a $200,000 home)."

The first game in the current stadium took place in the fall of 1968, said Lewis Stemen, long-time Pickerington schools administrator and current Instructional Resource Planner.

"The band still sits on the original bleachers," Stemen said.

The facilities committee has yet to decide if it will ask voters for a new stadium. It has considered asking the Athletic Boosters for contributions.

Although the boosters’ plan to soon offer Bingo, of the $60,000 per year boosters currently raise, $40,000 goes to the school and the boosters keep the remainder for other projects such as new equipment for the weight room, Central Athletic Director Pete Laihr said.

The current field possibly could be expanded to allow for an eighth lane of track, so that Central could begin hosting meets; however, there is not enough space to widen the field for soccer.

The band boosters who run the visitors concession stand have limited options for what they can serve because they lack running water, Laihr said.

The football team must dress in shifts and more than half the team remains outside during the coach’s halftime discussion, Laihr said.

"It’s just too small to get the whole team inside," Laihr said.

The sod cannot be upgraded to the artificial turf used at fields such as Ohio Stadium and Pickerington North because it lies in a flood plane.

"The rubber graduals would wash away and how hard would it be to clean a carpet that big," Laihr said. "We don’t know what’s in that floodwater."

The stands cannot hold all the home fans.

"It’s standing room only," Gray said. "There is no restriction on (sitting on the other side bleachers), but I’m not going to sit on the visitor’s side."

Mantia said that a seating area is needed to "corral the younger children who stand in front of the concession stand. It’s difficult to monitor students with no place to sit. We could send them to the visitors’ side, but that never works out well."

Laihr said the Central stands hold 2,400 on the home side and 1,000 on the visitors. North’s stadium holds 2,500 on the home side and 1,500 on the visitors.

Gray said he thought the district could purchase land that currently abuts the high school property on which to build a stadium, and that he did not want to spend more money on repairing the existing stadium if the plan was to build a new one.

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