Plans take shape for new stadium

SALINEVILLE – Southern Local school district residents, faculty and students got a better idea of what an improved stadium facility and turf field might look like Wednesday night at a stadium improvement meeting held at Southern Local High School.

The event, organized by superintendent John Wilson, is the second such meeting of this kind in which Wilson invited the entire community to share ideas of how Southern might revamp its stadium facility in an open forum discussion.

Though the meeting yielded several more developed blue prints and plans, Wilson stressed that the project was still in its preliminary stages. “This is all in the verbal stage, there’s nothing that we’ve decided, nothing that we have hung our hat on,” said Wilson.

The meeting started with a Powerpoint presentation by Wilson detailing the basic goals of the projects and listing them by order of urgency and importance.

As was discussed at previous meetings, stadium seating is still the top priority due to a set of bleachers on the visitor’s side of the stadium which have sunk so low that those sitting in the seats cannot adequately see the field.

Wilson also spoke of a need for more seating in general, saying that the home side bleachers could be expanded. Currently the stadium has 506 seats on the home side and 475 on the visitors.

A tentative model presented by Wilson would expand home side seating to 1,220 and the visitor’s side to 700. Based on quotes gathered from bleacher companies Wilson set the project of replacing the school’s bleachers at $150,000

The football field itself was second most urgent area of the stadium according to Wilson, who added it “virtually hasn’t been worked on since it was put in in 1962.”

He noted that last year the school did do some work to even out the field but added this was mostly for “cosmetic” purposes.

Justen Stickley, a regional sales manager with Sports Construction Group, informed those in attendance about the process of installing a turf field. Sports Construction Group is a Brecksville, Ohio, based company that does turf field installations for sports teams ranging from high school teams to the National Football League.

He spoke about the advantages of a turf field. “With a natural grass field you just can’t use it as much as you need to use it,” said Stickley.

Sports Construction Group has quoted the district at $500,000 for a new turf field. Stickley pointed out that the district last year spent $30, 000-40,000 on just maintaining the field.

As for funding the project, Wilson produced a clearer picture of where the money would come from and how much it would cost to local taxpayers.

Wilson’s plan consisted of transferring inside millage outside to the school’s permanent improvement fund.

Wilson cited several county schools that had made similar financial maneuvers to build new facilities including Columbiana to build a new school facility and East Palestine to build a new stadium.

“What that means to us is we can move 2 mills of inside millage to the Permanent Improvement Fund.” said Wilson. Wilson explained that 1 mill tax rate raises $82,000. The cost to a home owners in the Southern School district with a home worth $50,000 would be $22.97 a year and for a homeowner with a $150,000 home the cost would be $66.91 according to Wilson’s calculation.

“If you do the math its a little under $6 a month to get a great project for our community, something everybody can be proud of and something everybody can use for the price of a pack of cigarettes,” said Wilson.

He added that the board must first decide whether or not to ‘move the millage’ needed for the project.