Wood BOE to focus on Stadium Field

PARKERSBURG -Members of the Wood County Board of Education could be seeing red at tonight’s meeting – Big Red.

Parkersburg High School officials are hoping for a large turnout at tonight’s meeting as board members consider funding repairs to Stadium Field. A presentation on Stadium Field is on the agenda with board members discussing the possibility of funding repairs to get the bleachers open for football season.

Parkersburg High Athletics Director Lori Lowers is mustering support, asking coaches, students and parents to attend the meeting. Lowers said much more happens at the stadium than people realize.

“It’s not just football and football tickets,” she said.

Lowers said booster groups (soccer, wrestling and volleyball) rely on concession sales and auxiliary events to provide funding for their programs.

“We want to show them how many groups are using it and how important it is to our community.”

Tonight’s meeting has been moved from the board offices to the adjacent Jefferson Elementary Center auditorium.

Stadium Field’s bleachers require several hundred thousand dollars in improvements to bring at least part of the bleachers into useable condition. Parkersburg High Principal Pam Goots said the goal is to have sections fixed by football season.

Goots said the need for revenue generated by football helps offsets the cost of athletics. She also noted Stadium Field served as host to 90 non-PHS events last year.

Officials said if the stadium remains closed in the fall, the athletics department stands to lose about $200,000. Goots said the intent of the stadium committee is to get approval to begin fundraising and seek a bid package.

Charlotte Potter, treasurer for the stadium committee, said they have about $69,000 in the bank. Officials noted the committee has raised $2.5 million for the facilities since 1996. That includes sponsors signs and a 50-cent tax on tickets used for upkeep and repairs.

After last week’s meeting Potter said she was hoping the board would designate $900,000 for the project and the stadium committee could come up with $200,000. That would allow a long-term option to be done on the home side of the bleachers and be completed by late summer.

Potter said it would give the committee time to raise money to refurbish the visitors side for the 2014 season.

Stadium Field was built in 1923 by the incorporated Stadium Committee on land owned by the school board. According to the history of Stadium Field, from the Big Reds Factbook, the board turned over the land to the committee on a 99-year lease.

The grandstands were constructed in 1924 and a steel frame was added in the early 1990s. The concrete has been patched and repaired numerous times over the years.

The stadium is part of the school system’s facilities. And Tim Yeater, board president, said the board has to assume some responsibility with regard to maintenance.

The school system has $2.8 million in its contingency fund.

In addition to discussing possible funding for the stadium repairs, officials will also present the board with a refresher of the capital needs of the entire school system.

Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent, said those needs include roof repairs, an unfinished sprinkler system, gym floor at Criss Elementary School, foundation issues (due to erosion) at Edison Middle School, and the need for a new elementary school in Williamstown.

“We are presenting all the expenses. What can we manage and what are our priorities?” she said. “Refresh the board’s members of some of the things out there that are high-ticket items.”