The Tipp City Schools board of education heard updated cost estimates on a proposed stadium project Monday, Jan. 23, before voting 4-1 to build at City Park versus near Tippecanoe High School.
The board’s vote was to move forward with planning a project subject to receiving around $350,000 in city support along with private money the citizens group Tipp Pride Association hopes to raise.
Board members Andy Venters, Frank Maus, Carla Frame and President Sam Spano voted to support the park location. Board member Theresa Dunaway voted “no.” After the meeting, she said, “I don’t feel like the high school even got a fair consideration.”
Before its vote, the board heard updated costs estimates for the two possible sites from Mike Ruetschle of Ruetschle Architects and comments from Tipp Pride representatives about their efforts.
Ruetschle said cost sharing and in-kind support for the project discussed by the Tipp City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting changed previous cost estimates. Also affecting the estimates were the results of soil borings at the high school site that showed bedrock at one point at three feet and a possible reduction in the field from 70 yards to 65 yards.
The boring results added $150,000 to the high school site cost estimate to cover rock excavation that might be needed while the field reduction would reduce the turf cost around $100,000 at both sites, Ruetschle said.
The bottom line for the new estimates was $5.6 million for the City Park and $7.34 million for the high school.
JD Foust, in his first year with the district as athletic director, said he believed the economics pointed to the City Park as the appropriate stadium site.
“I think this community is really excited for this,” Foust said, adding the Tipp Pride group’s efforts at fundraising are appreciated. “It is going to take a village to make this happen, and we need everybody on board,” he said.
District resident Scott George, vice president of the Tipp Pride Association, shared input the board has received as it explores fundraising possibilities. Little money has been gathered so far because everyone approached asks where the stadium would be built, he said.
“We believe we can raise $2 million to $2.5 million with sale of naming rights and major sponsorships for the stadium,” George said, adding the stadium location probably wouldn’t impact those providing that type of support.
The remaining money, he said, would need to come from small businesses, affluent residents, school and city staff, alumni, community organizations, individual donors and fund-raising events. “We believe the location of the stadium will have a significant impact on our ability to pull those heart strings, and raise the remaining funds.”
Tipp Pride has seen a “stronger push” for the park location from those who grew up in Tipp City and the older population, George said.
“A lot of those folks are the ones who have the funds and are generous with those funds in giving,” he said. “We have heard from people willing to give tens of thousands of dollars if the stadium is located at the park. We have not heard anyone state that they will only give if the stadium was located at the high school.”
During the board discussion, Spano pointed out the city-voiced support was contingent on the stadium remaining at the City Park. Mayor Pat Hale, who attended the board meeting, confirmed that point.
The city owns the stadium but it is leased long-term to the schools, which are responsible for its maintenance and improvements under the agreement.
Spano said he’d emphasized from the start that cost would be a key factor in location. “The numbers here speak for themselves,” he said.
Dunaway questioned what would happen if Tipp Pride could not raise the funds, asking if the board then would have to turn to the public for the money.
Maus said the entire project was subject to city support and the private fundraising. If the fund raising doesn’t go as Tipp Pride plans, the board can re-evaluate options, Spano said.
Venters said the plan outlined was “the prudent way to proceed … to see what support is out there.”
Frame said her personal preference would be the high school location because of the benefits associated with having the facility adjacent to the school. However, she said, the numbers and the support from the city and Tipp Pride were enough for her to back the location favored by the majority of board members.