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ETSU looks to Science Hill for home field advantage over next 2 seasons

Nathan Baker • Nov 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Looking to extend a partnership that Johnson City and East Tennessee State University officials are so far calling a success, the city Board of Education will consider the structure of an agreement with the college to play host to its rebooted football team at the high school’s athletic field.

Dave Chupa, Johnson City Schools’ Supervisor of Instruction and Facilities, said a committee made up of himself, district Director of Human Resources Lee Patterson, Science Hill High School Athletic Director Keith Turner and Assistant Johnson City Manager Charlie Stahl have met over the past few weeks to build the contract proposal that will go before the school board at its regular meeting Monday.

“We’ve put together more of a general outline, and I expect the board will talk about it a little more specifically,” Chupa said Tuesday. “What we’re proposing is a fee charged similar to what we did at Freedom Hall for the use of the stadium, and we’ll probably be outlining additional options of costs if they want to use the video board or the dressing and shower rooms.”

The university, still in the early stages of getting its new athletic team off the ground, doesn’t expect to have its own football stadium on campus until the fall of 2017, according to President Brian Noland Monday.

The collegiate team needs a home stadium for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, and Noland expects that home to be Science Hill’s Kermit Tipton Stadium.

But certain details still need to be ironed out before the deal is final, according to Chupa.

“We want to be there for the university, but we don’t want to short-change the long-term needs of the stadium,” he said. “We have video board costs, maintenance and upkeep of the turf, so we can’t just tell them to come on in whenever they want to use it.”

There are also upgrades for the athletic facility the Board of Education has had on its list for funding, but hasn’t gotten around to yet, the most glaring of which is new lighting.

Chupa said the current lighting for the high school’s stadium does not meet either the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association standards or the more demanding standards set by the NCAA. The fees collected by the district for the college’s use could go toward making those upgrades, he said.

After the apparent success of a similar agreement between the city and the college for the use of Freedom Hall as the home venue for the Bucs men’s basketball team, Chupa said the school officials were more comfortable with striking a deal for the stadium.

“I think that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “It increased the level of comfort. Through these first few games, everything has gone very well. What we’ve seen here has been good, but football will be a whole different animal.”

Chupa said he expects the school board to give the thumbs up to the progress on the one-year contract Monday.

Athletic Director of Communications Michael White likewise said the progress looks positive from the university’s perspective, and the college expects an agreeable contract soon.

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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