Tipp Pride Association considers funding to finish stadium project

ajc.com

Credit: Contributing photo

Credit: Contributing photo

TIPP CITY – The nonprofit Tipp Pride Association is back at work on its efforts to come up with money to finish a stadium project after being sidelined for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TPA leaders plan an information meeting on the stadium effort at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Roundhouse at Tipp City Park. The Roundhouse is next to the community stadium.

So far, the private effort to raise funds has completed approximately $2.5 million in work including a new field and a concessions/restroom building and associated work.

Talk of the third phase fundraising was underway in early 2020 before the pandemic’s arrival. That phase would be the largest and include elements such as new bleachers, press box and lighting, among others.

“Needless to say, like the rest of the world we went undercover because of COVID,” said Mashell Stith of TPA.

With the easing and removal of COVID restrictions, efforts to restructure TPA to move forward and complete the project are resuming.

Now, however, TPA volunteers are exploring options for funding the rest of the project, possibly with a tax proposal to voters in the Tipp City and Monroe Twp., which make up the Tipp City Exempted Village School District.

The stadium at the City Park is owned by the city but leased to the schools.

Stith in May discussed possibilities of the township trustees sponsoring on the ballot a levy to complete the stadium project. The trustees said they first need to address a more pressing issue of funding township fire and EMS services provided in the township by Tipp City.

They encouraged Stith to continue work on the TPA efforts, including getting updated project cost numbers, and return once the fire/EMS funding issue is resolved. A November vote is expected in the township on the fire and EMS funding, meaning any stadium proposal wouldn’t come at least until spring 2022.

Although TPA said when it was formed several years ago that it planned to raise all project money privately, things have changed, Stith said.

“We are looking at every opportunity, any options we have for completing the stadium,” she said.

“The only other option we have, unless we have some millionaires that are interested, is taxpayers,” Stith added. “That wasn’t what our plan was, but we’ve funded over half of it already through other means. I think it is OK for the community to finish it. I think they will.”

Up to another $4 million may be needed to complete the job with growing construction costs, Stith said.

Township Trustee Martin English suggested the association take the time in coming months to rebuild grass roots support. “You are going to need it if you get a levy on the ballot. You will need that for campaigning, and getting out in the community,” he said.

Trustee Phil Cox said trustees “certainly understand what an asset that (stadium) can be to the community, but it costs money. What you have done so far looks great.”

TPA was formed to work on the stadium improvements while the board of education looked at district facilities and funding those needs. The board sought a bond issue for new classrooms in 2019, but it failed. A committee again is looking at facilities and boards of education have said they are not interested in paying for the stadium work.

The city participated in the early phase of the project including the new restrooms. “My obligations at this time are to eventually remove the light poles and do something with the green space for overflow parking,” said City Manager Tim Eggleston. “Everything else the council committed is completed.”

Stith agreed the city had done its part, and thanked them.

She told trustees she is optimistic the project will be completed.

“It is exciting to pick it up, run with it and finish it,” she said. “We will keep pushing and we will get it done.”

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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