SPRINGFIELD TWP. On Sept. 12, administrative personnel, community members and representatives of MPB Architects met at Springfield Junior Senior High School to present potential ideas for a new high school stadium.
The current football stadium and track were built in the 1950s. Parts of the facilities no longer meet the codes set by Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).
Athletic Director Kevin Vaughn presented the history and a review of the condition of the athletic complex and Springfield’s uses, currently and in the future, of the facility.
Vaughn pointed out that the field is all-natural grass, the track is cinders, the spectator and band bleachers need replaced.
“The score board has had recent updates," Vaughn said. "It looks nice, but it is a band aid. The press box is compared to a treehouse and the light posts are in the way.”
Vaughn said that logistically, the practice fields are a nightmare and most of them are off site. Vaughn explained to those in attendance that the concession stands need updated, some of the restrooms are not ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliant. Parking is limited, especially for big events.
A new facility would benefit, not only the high school athletic programs and students, but community members and all those from high school on down through the youth sports programs.
“The fieldhouse is new and is a great addition,” said Vaughn.
The complex is about 50 years old and is beyond repair. Vaughn said it is a longevity thing that needs to be changed. Aspects of the facility are unsafe for students, opponents, spectators and the Lakemore-Springfield community members.
“We are in a situation that our students don’t get to train daily like surrounding schools," Vaughn said. "They have to go out and compete on different surfaces than what they train on,”
He said the areas surrounding Springfield are growing and it puts them at a disadvantage. Maintaining the current facilities and the transportation costs are not effective.
Safety is an issue along with the costs incurred with the current situation. When the fields are turf throughout, the district would be saving costs on man hours for maintenance, fuel, irrigation, less transportation costs as the multi-sports complex would host 90 percent of the sports programs and contests on site. The buses would not be running transportation across the district every day to get students to practice facilities.
Vaughn pointed out that some of the upgrades needed are new surfaces that would be safer for students and for the community members that want to come in during evening hours and use the track. Practice fields would be onsite and not out at parks and other schools. To use the facilities all year long will generate revenue.
“We could host track meets and invitationals," Vaughn said. "Our track program is growing. The ability to hold OHSAA programs would generate dollars."
The projected look of the complex would be campus-like to allow for football, softball, baseball, track and field and the band to practice and perform in the same location.
Bobby Johnson, of MPG, said the company has sat down with the school administration to see what it could do to help Springfield on the project. He presented a slide show that highlighted the stadium, practice fields and facility and how it could be changed using the current location of the football field with softball and baseball fields flanking it.
“All of the changes are in a proposal and nothing is in stone,” Johnson said.
The track would be eight lanes and not cinders bringing the school to a level of other area schools.
“Bleachers and other parts of the stadium are needed to be up to code,” Johnson said.
Treasurer Chris Adams spoke about possibilities for the funding the stadium's cost. He said an approximate 2-mill bond issue that would cost taxpayers about $6 to $13 a month depending on value of their property would cover the costs. Other ideas to help fund the project would be to sell bricks on the esplanade, naming rights and other ideas that would involve donations of community members and businesses.
“Anything that deals with people’s wallets, you have to be open, transparent and inform them of the benefits," Adams said. "The reality is, today, young adults want this, they demand it; you don’t have it, they will look elsewhere. What does that cause? It causes enrollment to steadily decline and with that comes loss of money."
When enrollment goes down and neighboring communities are providing what that district can't, Adams said the data is coming out and those communities lose.
“So, I tell people to think of it this way, we have a rich history in Springfield. We want to have a future rich history," Adams said. "We want our property values to maintain and grow. If we don’t, those dollars a month are going to cost $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 to the average person in lost revenue in their house.
"This current facility we are operating is disgraceful. We have a track and cross-country program that is growing leaps and bounds. These facilities, 70, 80 or 90 percent of our students will use and so will our community members. This is more than a football field, this is an important project in this community. It should not be taken lightly and anyone having questions please get in touch with me.”
More plusses for a new complex would be that there would be more home games for softball and baseball and they would be able to host track meets. It would create a nice campus atmosphere for Springfield-Lakemore students and residents and for other visiting schools, which, in turn, would be less dollars in maintenance and more dollars in revenue.
Vaughn said the community and Springfield-Lakemore children deserve better.
"This complex will accommodate the needs of the community's youth sports programs through high school, club events, travel baseball and many outside sources and will give the district opportunity to generate revenue," he said. "There are all kinds of activities out there that we can benefit from.”
He said education is a business and they want families to gravitate to Springfield as they work to maintain and grow the enrollment.
“It will help to create a level playing field for our students," Vaughn said. "It will create Spartan Pride, revenue and a safer environment.
Questions were asked by those in attendance and the administration welcomes any questions from members of the community.
“It is a process we are going through. We plan to meet with the school board. It is a proposed idea, but it is exciting,” said Superintendent Chuck Sincere.