School board moves ahead with Cub Stadium plans

Ronna Lawless

The Nevada school board voted unanimously Monday to have construction documents prepared for a $4.6 million renovation to Cub Stadium. From those construction documents, the project can be let for bids, and the board will make a final decision about committing to renovations after reviewing those bids.

Some of the highlights of the improvements include:

  • An increase in stadium seating, with 1,500 seats for the home crowd (up from 700) and 500 seats for the visiting team’s fans (the same as it is now, but the seating will be elevated for a better view).
  • The new seating will offer a much larger passageway behind the stands and will be ADA compliant.
  • An attractive Spirit Store with glass walls, which the architect described as a “beacon for people to come in to.”
  • The entire project will be ADA compliant
  • New restrooms
  • New concession stand
  • New fencing

The school board approved moving ahead with the base plan described above, along with two alternate projects. Eventually, the board can decide to accept bids on all, part or none of the renovations and at this point has only committed funds to the completion of the construction documents that, among other things, give the specifications for bids. In total, those documents will cost $77,000. Anticipated completion of the renovation is August of 2016.

One of the alternate projects would be a 40-by-60-foot extension to the ag/mech building near the end of the football field. At a cost of $488,000, the extension would have team rooms for the Cubs and the opponents to use for halftime, a room for the officials, and storage.

The second alternate project is a wrestling room, which would be attached to the middle school. The addition would provide a practice room for the high school wrestling team. It would have a concrete floor with double mats, 8-foot high mats on the walls, and would offer better temperature controls than the current location. The estimated cost for this alternate is $708,000.

Clint Jensen, the construction manager from Story Construction, pointed out that one of the benefits of building all three portions of the plan is that the district will incur no additional construction management costs because the work would be simultaneous.

The school board’s decision followed a public hearing, which was attended by fewer than 10 residents. Three of those residents addressed the board during the hearing.

Rich Parker questioned the idea of spending millions of dollars on renovations to the stadium and wondered how the project was prioritized within the district’s capital improvement plans. He said spending that much money on a facility project was “not appropriate without a bond issue and letting people vote” on it. He said that, although he is a football fan, he didn’t think the large amount of money spent was commensurate with the number of people affected by the project. Parker also told the school board he thought the stadium was not a good use of tax money and that supporters of the project should raise some of the funds.

Bernie Stephenson, who keeps stats for the high school football team, said he had been to many facilities in his role with the team. He said Nevada’s stadium was among the worst he had seen. North Polk, Bondurant, Gilbert and Ballard have stadiums that “put ours to shame,” he said. When school districts are all competing to draw new students, the quality of athletic facilities is one of the things families look at, he said.

Kody Asmus, the head football coach, said, “There’s a lot of attention on it being the football stadium, but it’s also used for soccer and track.” He also pointed out that the Booster Club, which runs the concession stand as a fundraising activity, would probably benefit significantly from the upgrade to the concession facility.

“We should do something to get the younger kids to want to be a Cub,” Asmus added.

Board president Marty Chitty, a 1977 graduate of Nevada, pointed out that the stands are the same ones the stadium had when he was playing football. “I think we got our money’s worth out of them,” Chitty said. “Now we have the means, desire and I think we have the backing to do it.”

“We have money we put aside for this from the sales tax dollars,” said board member Dave Sutherland. The district also plans to borrow against future sales tax revenue. Money from the sales tax can be used only on infrastructure and improvements.

Board member Laura West said the stadium improvement would help economic development. “What the outside looks like matters,” she said. She said that not just the football players, but as many as 400-500 students would benefit from the improvements, including junior high football, track, soccer and physical education. “We are a community that supports our kids,” she said. “We want to draw kids here. And we want our kids to be proud of Nevada.”