New EHS stadium in starting blocks
With the new Eudora High School building essentially complete, school district officials are setting its sights on completing another venue -- a new stadium.
The USD 491 Board of Education decided Monday afternoon to put the stadium's first phase out for bid. The stadium was designed by DLR group, which also designed the high school. The first phase would include an eight-lane track, facilities for field events, and a sidewalk and fence around the track. The district is waiting to decide on the quality of track surfacing -- from surfacing comparable to area high schools to Olympic-quality surfacing -- based on bids.
The facility is planned west of the high school, meaning it can take advantage of the about 1,000 parking spaces available nearby and the proximity of the high school locker rooms. With the project going out to bid in February, Superintendent Marty Kobza said the district could anticipate construction beginning as early as April.
Coaches and Activities Director Dave Durkin had input on the facility plan, including the alternate bids for staging areas adjacent to the track. Durkin said the areas would allow athletes to warm up without interfering with the running area.
"We've seen them other places, and it adds a really nice touch," Durkin said. "We've got such great facilities now, why not keep it all first-class?"
The sidewalk and fencing around the track and football field was another idea generated by input from those involved in meets and games.
"If you've ever been to a track meet or a football game, you have issues with crowds," Durkin said. "(The sidewalk and fence) keep people back, but it gives them a place to stand. They're on concrete, not in the mud."
The plans would allow the full field width necessary for soccer and would make it easy for the football program to switch to turf, although the players would play on grass for the foreseeable future, Kobza said.
It is hoped the new facility, especially with eight track lanes, would allow the district to draw regional athletic events. However, amenities like lights, bleachers, concessions and restrooms are planned for the project's second phase. Although Board members expressed concern about having a nice, new facility being used primarily for practice, the current budget climate could move the second phase three to five years down the road, Kobza said.
Plans for the bleachers in the second phase could include premium seating at the 50-yard line. The seats with backs and arm rests could be sold for $50 to $100 for the season, as they did at Rockhurst High School, Kobza said. Ticket-holders would be guaranteed their premium seat for the regular season.
Subtracting complimentary seats for Board members, coaches' families and district guests, about 250 premium seats could bring in as much as $25,000 in revenue. Kobza said that would go a long way in supporting the football program, and in the first year it would pay for the extra cost of installing the premium seats.
Although any premium seating would be a long way down the road, Board member Kenny Massey questioned whether such a plan would be fruitful, remembering the days when about 200 people would show up to watch a Eudora High School football game.
"Our football team is going to have peaks and valleys over the years," he said. "I don't want to see us comparing ourselves to the Rockhursts and Haydens and Aquinases."