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City may borrow to expand fieldhouse

Gary B. Gray • Feb 9, 2012 at 9:33 PM

The new, but small and incomplete fieldhouse sitting opposite the home stands at Kermit Tipton Stadium will be getting some financial attention that could bring the original $1 million concept to fruition.

During discussion Thursday of the fieldhouse at a joint City Commission/Board of Education Facilities Committee meeting, City Manager Pete Peterson suggested the city borrow about $750,000 so Science Hill High School Athletic Director Keith Turner could move forward with the plan.

“It appears there is sufficient revenues to generate money to make debt-service payments, and this would allow for the completion of the fieldhouse,” Peterson said. “It would take about $750,000, but we would need all the revenues from advertising on the scoreboard to go toward retiring that debt.”

However, Peterson said he will be meeting with Turner to draw up a proposal. The plan would have to be approved by both the City Commission and BOE.

“Most of the $250,000 to $300,000 we have is sitting in an account for this purpose, and we’ve had verbal commitments of about $500,000,” said Jeff Aldridge, SHHS assistant principal. “The architect already has given us the plan, so those costs are taken care of.”

Turner, who is in charge of getting the money into a city account, said he and Peterson have talked several times about funding for the fieldhouse — funding that would allow for the completion of either a two-story facility, or an additional building, and perhaps constructing a large enough weight room at the fieldhouse to accommodate athletes involved in all sports. None of these possibilities are set in stone.

Turner has, from the inception of the new football stadium, sought dollars and guidance in a fundraising effort to fund a 3,500-square-foot fieldhouse, which would include a team meeting room, weight room, training room, locker room and coaches’ offices.

Naming rights currently have price tags that go from $100 for the “Buy a Brick” campaign, to $1,000-$25,000 for placement on the “Donor Recognition Wall,” to a cool $250,000 to have your name on the fieldhouse.

“The football team dresses up the hill at the school right now,” Turner said. “The small fieldhouse that was built when the stadium was built is used mostly for soccer. We make most of our revenue from football. We also generate some revenue from basketball and soccer. But between what has been donated and what has been committed, we’re well over $500,000. So if we do this project, we can knock that (debt) out pretty quick.”

It is not yet clear how repayment to the city might be structured, and the reach and definition of “advertising revenue” also still is unclear when it comes to which sports and teams would be included.

“I’m a strong supporter of expanding the fieldhouse,” Peterson said. “But my agreement with Keith is, I wouldn’t support taking any money from non-revenue-producing sports, including cheerleading.”

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