State College

State College hammering out football logistics as Memorial Field project pushes ahead

State College’s Memorial Field facility will undergo renovations worth more than $11 million, according to base bids approved by the school board.
State College’s Memorial Field facility will undergo renovations worth more than $11 million, according to base bids approved by the school board. Centre Daily Times, file

After at least four years of discussion, planning and community meetings, the State College Area school board has agreed to move forward with a renovations project for Memorial Field.

Board members voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday to accept base bids worth nearly $11.7 million. They also gave the go-ahead for construction to run from May this year until August 2020 — a timeline that will require sports teams and the high school marching band to use other facilities in the 2019-2020 year.

Other construction options, described by a district official as a “stop-and-go” approach, would have required a longer time frame for the renovations. Those alternatives would have allowed teams to use Memorial Field in fall 2019 and set construction for the spring and summer seasons.

That prospect, however, would have pushed the project completion date to spring 2021 and cost some $500,000 to $800,000 more, district facilities director Ed Poprik told the Centre Daily Times.

The construction plan includes renovating the home bleachers on the field’s east side, along with locker rooms, restrooms, the press box, concession stand and field access ramp. The historic field sits along South Fraser Street at Nittany Avenue.

Details of where the football team might play this fall are still being worked out, but the board is considering a hybrid schedule that would allow Memorial Field to open for about three weeks in October. That would accommodate heavier-attended football games such as homecoming and senior night. The option would not change the overall project timeline, according to the district.

Action on that prospect is required by the end of April.

At least some of the varsity football games, under the base bid schedule, will be played on a modified North Field along Westerly Parkway, where a driver’s education tower used to stand. Other fall and spring sports will be played on the North Field or South Track, behind the new State College Area High School building on the parkway.

Board members have also approved buying three tow-able bleachers with the capacity of 300 seats each — at a cost not to exceed $154,000. Those bleachers will be used either at the North Field or Memorial Field. The bleachers can be used elsewhere in the district for well-attended sporting events.

“This really allows the flexibility to play all the home games scheduled in State College” either at North Field or some combination of that site and Memorial Field, Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said at the Tuesday meeting. “But we need the capacity, whether we play all the games on our North Field, or it’s a combo of some other option, because we just don’t have the seating.”

Possible costs yet to be decided for the North Field location include $145,000 for a press box, $80,000 to relocate 500 seats from Memorial Field, $40,000 for a scoreboard and $30,000 for goal posts. Turf installation has already been approved.

Poprik told the board that buying bleachers was a better option than renting them, since rented bleachers would not have the same ability to be moved and would require Centre Region code approval, including accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act and restroom facilities.

The base bids were awarded to Leonard S. Fiore, the general contractor, for nearly $9.3 million; Silvertip Inc., for plumbing and fire prevention, for $896,000; Silvertip, for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning services, for $579,600; and Bob Biter Electric, for electric services, for $897,300.

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