Courtesy Van Wert City Schools Board of Education:
(12-9-19) The Van Wert City Schools Board of Education (BOE) is committed to providing the best possible facilities for all our student athletes. At this time, we are excited to provide an update regarding the ongoing efforts to renovate Eggerss Stadium, as well as construct a new baseball / softball complex at the main campus on US 118.
Before we share with you where we are today, it is important to note how we arrived at this point in time.
- (2017 Story) Survey says ‘Renovate Van Wert Eggerss Stadium’
How we got here
In December 2016, the Board of Education authorized the creation of an Athletic Complex / Stadium Committee.
This committee consisted of the following:
7 – voting members (residents of the Van Wert City School District)
2 – non-voting members (Bill Clifton and Bob Priest)
2 – resource members (Ken Amstutz and Randy Stemen)
Committee members were asked to be open-minded and objective throughout the process.
Three objectives were outlined at the inception meeting held on Dec. 13, 2016:
1. To give careful consideration to both (Eggerss Stadium and High School/Middle School campus) locations openly and objectively.
2. To determine the needs for both locations and complete a cost analysis for each plan – including the pros and cons of each.
3. To ultimately come to a consensus and make a recommendation to the Board of Education.
The Committee’s work culminated in October 2017 when Cheryl Ryan of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) presented the football stadium survey results. The stadium survey was conducted during the early part of October. Ms. Ryan provided a PowerPoint presentation to those in attendance along with a handout for Board members. She stated that there were 2,053 responses to the survey. Of the three options provided, roughly 71 percent of the respondents chose Option A: to renovate Eggerss Stadium.
On behalf of the seven voting members of the stadium committee, Pat Jackson presented to the Board that the committee wanted to ensure that all three options presented were state-of-the-art, long-lasting, and something that Van Wert could be proud of for a very long time. Mr. Jackson went on to say that the committee recommended Option A – to renovate Eggerss Stadium.
During the December 2017 Board of Education meeting, the BOE:
“Acknowledges the Eggerss Stadium Committee recommendation dated Oct. 26, 2017, and authorizes the Board to begin strategic planning to address the Eggerss Stadium Project.”
Additionally, at the October meeting, the BOE:
“Approved to vacate (cease utilization) the visitor bleachers at Eggerss Stadium effective immediately as the District was put on notice by our insurance company that the bleachers have serious life-safety issues which significantly impacts insurability.”
A Stadium Committee, consisting of Anthony Adams (BOE), Bill Clifton (Assistant Superintendent), Randy Stemen (Facilities), Bob Priest (High School Principal) and Trent Temple (Athletic Director), was formed to begin the strategic planning process for the renovation of Eggerss Stadium.
As the planning process commenced, other athletic facilities’ needs were identified and discussed. At the present time, VWCS in partnership with the Van Wert Parks Department plays both baseball and softball home games at Smiley and Jubilee Parks, respectively. The partnership has been and continues to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, it has been the intention since the construction of the main campus to eventually relocate baseball and softball onto school property.
Therefore, in addition to the planning for renovations to Eggerss Stadium, planning of a new baseball / softball complex on the main campus also began.
The Stadium Project planning included assistance from Rossi Associates, LLC, an architectural firm specializing in renovation of cement stadiums. Initial plans included a multi-phase project consisting of the renovation of the stadium, replacement of the visitors’ bleachers, new locker room facilities, etc.…
However, the most pressing need in the spring and summer of 2018 was the replacement of the visitors’ bleachers. The BOE passed a resolution authorizing the use of up to $300,000 in Permanent Improvement proceeds to fund the replacement of the visitors’ bleachers, as well as several other improvements. The intention was to then repay those funds when fundraising for the stadium renovation commenced.
Through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, the committee continued to work hard to evaluate the scope of each project including design, cost, timing, fundraising, and implementation of various phases.
In September 2018, the BOE contracted with Howard Benson, CEO of National Community Development Services. Mr. Benson’s group is familiar with the Van Wert community through various other projects. His expertise in the area of fundraising is greatly appreciated and vital to the success of the two projects currently being considered.
Where are we now
The proposed design and cost for each project has been established. Renderings of each have been prepared. The next step is to identify the best avenue toward funding the cost of each project.
Mr. Benson is charged with completion of a feasibility study for each of the projects. The feasibility study process includes distribution of information to identified parties who have shown the willingness and ability to support community projects in the past. Mr. Benson will then sit down face to face with those individuals to ascertain their interest in supporting each of the projects. Upon completion of these interviews, Mr. Benson will take the information provided and recommend to the Board of Education the best path forward.
The time will come very soon for those interested in supporting these projects financially to step forward and make their intentions known. If anyone knows of someone Mr. Benson should contact, please send contact information to my e-mail address noted above.
It is imperative that the path forward for each project is clearly defined prior to the solicitation of any private donations to avoid confusion as to how those donations will be used. We appreciate the enthusiasm and support as we continue to move through the planning process.