SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Board of Education’s July 20 meeting featured a presentation on an athletic fieldhouse.
First, Megan Stevens was recognized for placing eighth in the high jump at the state track and field finals. She has another year left of eligibility.
The board then heard a presentation from Chad Zipfel of Big Walnut Youth Sports Organization (BWYSO). He was seeking the level of interest in partnering on a privately funded indoor athletic complex along Miller Drive between the tennis courts and baseball/softball fields. This would provide full-year use for field sports athletics for middle school and high school students, and first rights in inclement weather October through March.
Soccer, lacrosse, football, and baseball could be played in the facility, Zipfel said. A third party would construct the facility on existing school land, infrastructure and security. In the offseason, the non-profit BWYSO could schedule programming for the facility, the board was told. The BWYSO could also employ someone to run the facility.
Zipfel said the nearest equivalent facility in the area is Resolute at Easton. Hilliard also has a Bo Jackson-owned dome, but it is more costly because it is inflatable and prone to punctures. The middle school soccer fields were considered for the facility, but it was felt the high school had easier access. Other private land would be costly and require extra travel.
The fieldhouse could be built in phases, starting with the field, Zipfel said. Then there would be lockers and courts, and additional parking for stadium events. It would be prefabricated and modular in structure, without beams or columns, for quick construction and safety. It would have a 25-year warranty. Once constructed, the facility’s major costs would be for heating/cooling and turf maintenance. A potential vendor could be Britespan Buildings, which recently did the indoor football practice facility for James Madison University, with another firm doing installation.
It would take $1.5 to $2 million to start construction, Zipfel told the board, on land 160-feet wide by 400-foot long. It was believed that rental revenue from training and winter leagues would keep the fieldhouse self-sustaining with positive cash flow. Fundraising, donations of services, and facility naming rights could keep the district from spending any of its money on the fieldhouse. Local banks are also likely to offer loans for such structures if needed.
Indoor diving and golf were other sports that were discussed by board members, and there were questions about public grants and corporate partnerships.
Board members Angela Graziosi, Alice Nicks, and Todd Smith (Steve Fujii was absent) told the BWYSO that initially, they are in favor of the fieldhouse but would need more information. Superintendent Ryan McLane and Board President Doug Crowl have been in discussion with the BWYSO as well.
McLane said there is potential for expansion of the facility at the high school. They have looked into the idea of a Joint Recreational District with other local municipalities for a pool, but none of them can do it on their own. A JRD may have been already established with a failed bond issue in 2006-07, but further investigation is needed.
The BWYSO services more than 1,300 kids. Its executive director is Silas Bowers.
Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].