The Gilmer School Board voted Monday night to use a maintenance tax bond to reimburse the school for current and future costs of the planned major renovation of Buckeye Stadium.
School Supt. Rick Albritton told trustees that overall bids for the project came in “a little higher” than expected—a guaranteed maximum cost of $1.877 million compared to the projected $1.686 million—but the district can attempt to “reduce costs as we go along.”
GISD will borrow funds to pay for the project, using a 10- to 20-year maintenance bond. The loan will be repaid with $2.1 million over 18 years, said school Business Mgr. Beverly Grimes.
Last month, Longview architect Phil Thacker presented the board a site plan for the project, which he said will involve adding more than 750 seats to the home side of the 50-year-old stadium, and erecting a 2-story press box.
Demolition of current facilities is scheduled to begin Nov. 3, the day after Gilmer’s last home football game of 2012.
Albritton has said the work is needed partly because concrete put in place at the stadium in 1962 is deteriorating from water washing underneath it. And as seats break, installing replacement seats is very difficult, he said.
The board last month employed WRL General Contractors Ltd. of Flint as construction manager.
Plans call for raising the total number of homeside seats from the current 2,172—which includes 608 seats with chair backs—to 2,925, some 903 of which would have chair backs. Ticket prices for the chair- back seats will be raised, and the current press box will be demolished.
Albritton said last month that the estimated $1.686 million cost was based on Thacker’s estimate, but GISD officials “hope the bids come in better than this.” Although they actually came in higher, board President Jeff Rash predicted some items in the plans won’t cost as much as projected, and Albritton said after Monday night’s meeting that he did not expect the district will have to use certain contingency allotment funds involved in the planning.
The superintendent said the project was being funded by three steps: the recent re-funding of initial bonds, which lowered the interest rate on them; increasing revenue and ticket sales; and the school’s having paid off two short-term notes.
Albritton raised the possibiity that the school could help finance the project by opening a shop to sell tee-shirts and caps promoting the Gilmer Buckeyes. He noted his wife was at a Longview school recently where a vendor was selling Buckeye shirts, and said the district was “going to look at how to market ourselves.”
Rash also raised the possibility of selling advertising signage to be displayed inside the stadium.
In a lengthy discussion of the project Monday night, the board discussed such aspects of it as how it will affect the sale of chair-back seats. The current 608 such seats are all taken and the waiting list for them is rumored to be up to several hundred names long.
Rash said he had been told that divorce decrees listed the division of the seats before listing which party got the couple’s house.