TIPP CITY – After at least 30 years of talk about the need for a stadium project, ground was broken Thursday, March 8, for phase one of improvements including a new synthetic turf and related site work.
Spitting snow and temperatures in the 30s didn’t stop students, parents, city and school officials and community members from heading into the stadium at City Park for a more than 30-minute program including the Tippecanoe Schools fight song, school cheerleaders and a ceremonial groundbreaking at the stadium’s northeast corner.
“Today is truly a day of celebration,” said schools Superintendent Gretta Kumpf. She praised efforts so far by the nonprofit Tipp Pride Association to raise $4.9 million for the project and told students she was “so excited” they would be taking to the new field for sports, band and other activities later this year.
With the signing of a contract with Bruns General Contracting, work on phase one of the long-talked about stadium improvements can get underway at Tipp City Park.
The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education voted Feb. 26 to sign the contract with the Tipp City-based contractor after members received assurances that district taxpayer dollars would not be used for the stadium project.
“We are not looking to use taxpayer dollars for this facility,” district Treasurer Dave Stevens said.
Money for the $4.9 million project is being raised privately by the nonprofit Tipp Pride Association.
Board members said they wanted it made clear that the board does not think the stadium project is more important than the district’s school buildings.
The board is working on a facilities master plan. It held a community forum Feb. 20 to discuss possible renovations to the middle and intermediate schools while exploring options for a new pre-kindergarden through grade three building to replace the district’s oldest buildings.
“There are no academic needs that won’t be met because of this,” Andrew Venters, board vice president, said of the stadium project.
Around $1.6 million had been committed to the stadium project at the time of contract approval.
A contract was needed so work on first phase one – preparation for and installation of the new stadium synthetic turf – could get underway. The contract called for work to begin March 1 and substantially completed in August.
The most expensive part of phase one is the synthetic turf with shock pad that will replace the current natural field at a cost of just over $636,000. Other work includes site cleaning and removals, storm water modifications, earthwork and concrete work.
JD Foust, district athletic director, said the new field was needed because the old one no longer was safe for the students.
When additional work - and what work - will be done depends on fundraising, said Scott George of TPA. He urged the community to get behind the fund-raising efforts. George noted the more than 30 years of discussions of needed improvements. “If seeing is believing, it is time to believe,” he said Thursday.
He again assured those gathered that funding would be raised privately, but help I needed across the community. “This is our call to action. If you have been wanting to donate, the time to step forward is now,” George said.
The current stadium was built in the 1940s. The property is owned by the city and leased long-term to the schools. More information on TPA is available at tipppride.com.
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