Rain delays may not sink stadium timetable

StadiumMay629.jpg
StadiumMay629.jpg

Dry weather enabled work crews to go full speed Monday on the Tabor College-USD 410 stadium project. At left is the excavation for the major retaining wall along the west side of the stadium. The prep work for the artificial-turf football field is visible at right, and Tabor?s athletic offices and dressing room facility is visible at the far end of the project.

Rising costs, unanticipated problems and rain have slowed progress on the stadium project being undertaken jointly by Tabor College and Unified School District 410.

But according to athletics representatives for the Bluejays and Trojans, the delays are not likely to cause scheduling problems for either football team.

At least, not so far.

?There was time built into the schedule, so right now we feel like we?re able to overcome this,? said Rusty Allen, vice president for athletics at Tabor.

But if the rain continues?

?It?s complex, so it?s hard to be succinct,? Allen said. ?My gut instinct is that we have used up the contingency (time set aside at the start of the project).

?When we get delayed from now on, we?re going to have to find ways to make up the time?either get people to work two shifts, bring in double crews or work more Saturdays than had been planned.

?I feel it?s a really tight schedule, but I?m going by my instincts.?

Tabor back-up plan

Allen also said Tabor has put a back-up plan in place. If Joel Wiens stadium is not ready in time for the Bluejays? home opener Sept. 19, the game will be played at Fisher Field, home of Newton High School?s football team.

?I?m tempted to worry about it, but the bottom line is we committed this to God a long time ago, so I?m going to work and do my part and trust that this will work out in a way that?s positive,? Allen said.

?We can?t do anything about the rain, and some people are very thankful for the rain. Who am I to complain when other people are needing it??

HHS options

Robert Rempel, Hillsboro High School activities director, said the high school is considering several options in case of a bad scenario.

?Honestly, I don?t want to think about it,? Rempel said. ?We do have another field here in town (elementary school), and there is also the possibility of having to go to the away site.

?Could we host a track meet? Probably not. But I don?t have any reason right now to believe we will not be able to play our football games at the new stadium.?

The Trojans? open at home with Sacred Heart Sept. 4 and host Smoky Valley, Ellinwood and Lyons before their first away game?Oct. 2 at Sterling.

?Construction has been delayed a week or two weeks,? Rempel said. ?They?ll be laying turf within two weeks. The track is probably going to be the last thing done because it needs a retaining wall built between the track and the bleachers.

?After that retaining wall is put in, there is about eight weeks left. That puts the track at the beginning of August, barring any major rain delays.

?As far as I?m concerned, I want the field and the bleachers by the first part of September,? he added. ?I?d like it by mid-August, so we can practice on it?and from what they?re telling us, it can still be done.?

Rempel and Allen agree that it is difficult to quantify the work lost to rain days.

Consider the retaining wall: ?When it rains, it fills the holes they?ve dug for the retaining walls with water, so they obviously can?t form and pour retaining walls?but they can build the forms off to the side, so its hard for them to tell me how much time we actually lose,? Allen said.

Plan changes

While the delays have allowed some pieces of the project to get an earlier-than-planned start, others have been significantly altered, including:

n reduction of the number of seats on the home side from 3,000 to 2,500.

n elimination of raised concrete for the visitor bleachers.

n reduction in the size of the championship plaza, including changes to the concessions and restrooms facility and the ticket booth building.

n Changes to drainage systems and parking lot access road.

?These changes tend to be driven either by money or by practical needs our coaches and athletes point out,? Allen said. ?Our approach has been while we must stay within a budget, we want to provide our athletes with a high-quality facility.?

Allen said the number of rows and their vertical spacing on the home side seating area is unchanged, but a reduction in the overall width of the stands will reduce seating by 500.

Allen said the concessions building was moved to the north to avoid placement on the steep incline at the original site. He noted that a smaller ticket building cut costs by $25,000.

For drainage purposes, a berm along a waterway in the wheat field south of the stadium will be removed.

?The water needs to get into that waterway right away in order to keep the field events from being swampy,? Allen said. ?There are various other grading issues down there that have come around?changes that aren?t necessarily cost-impacting, but are wise moves.?

A major change has been made to the drainage systems of the ?D-zones? of the track.

?We went from what they call an inlet drain to a slot drain,? Allen said. ?A slot drain is usually more expensive, but we were able to negotiate it for essentially the same price as the inlet drain.?

The final design of the road leading to the parking lot?the Bluejays? football practice field in its former life?is not yet close to being finalized.

?We have to do something to get people back to the parking lot, so there has to be a street that runs along the left-field fence, in between the cemetery and the baseball field,? Allen said. ?The ideal way to construct a street doesn?t fit in the budget, so we?re way up in the air on how we?re going to proceed.?

Allen said Tabor?s preference is for a concrete road with appropriate storm drains to meet city specifications.

?You can go public with it, you can go private with it,? he said. ?If you go public with it, you can have a special assessment district and pay for it over time, and it can be maintained by a city road crew.

?If we go private with it, there are no restrictions, so we could go with gravel if we needed to.

?There?s a lot to figure out. Will the college pay for that alone? Will the school system help pay for it? Will the city contribute anything to it? We?re in the middle of trying to figure out how to partner to make this happen the best it can.?

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