The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

VWCS seeks community input on stadium

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

After months of looking at plans and other schools’ stadiums, a committee formed to look at the future of Van Wert City Schools’ Eggerss Stadium has come up with three options that would provide the district with a facility designed to be an asset for future Cougar football teams.

Eggerss Stadium is shown following a snowstorm in Van Wert. VW independent file photo

Now, the committee and the Van Wert City Board of Education are seeking input from the community on which option they would support.

Eggerss Stadium was built in 1936 and was a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was created to provide jobs to people during the depths of the Great Depression. While there has been regular maintenance of the facility over the years — even though the district did not have a set-aside maintenance fund during many of those years — the stadium now needs a facelift and new facilities, or to be demolished to make way for a new facility.

Stadium Committee member Beth Gamble said that, while the Eggerss Stadium has received regular maintenance, just being exposed to weather and the normal aging forces has resulted in a need for a makeover for the venerable stadium.

“A concrete stadium is going to have some issues after 81 years of being exposed to the elements, despite our routine maintenance efforts,” Gamble said. “The stadium is a topic that has been discussed a number of times in the past. If we continue using it, renovations and upgrades are needed.

“There are safety and accessibility issues we are facing,” she added. “A decision needs to be made, and the district needs to begin moving toward that goal.”

The Stadium Committee, which includes Gamble, Pat Jackson, Jacob Jones, Larry Mengerink, Don Miller, Lee Ann Pratt, and Chuck Steele, was formed to discuss the issue and find viable options for the future. Non-voting members Bill Clifton, district administrative assistant, and Van Wert High School Principal Bob Priest have been resources for the committee, providing assistance and information during its search for solutions to the stadium problem.

That discussion has resulted in three options that include renovating Eggerss Stadium and also providing a new locker room/concession stand facility at the current site, as well as demolishing the stadium and either building a new one on the Eggerss Stadium site or at the current middle school-high school location.

Objectives for the committee have been to give consideration to any possible options, determine district stadium needs, and to complete a cost analysis for any options developed. Following completion of an upcoming community survey, the committee will then make a recommendation to the school board on which option they should pursue.

The committee has also touring other schools’ football facilities, with Gamble noting the tours were needed to show what other facilities have to offer.

“We wanted to get ideas regarding press boxes, seat types, fencing, and stadium enclosures, to name a few things,” she noted. “Napoleon has an artificial turf field, which we were very interested in discussing with them.

“We had many questions regarding installation, maintenance, etc., of the turf,” Gamble added, noting that the tours also helped the committee put together cost estimates for its three options.

Starting this coming Saturday, community members will have the chance to state their preference on which stadium option they would support.

Jackson explained the reason for the survey, and how the committee will view the results.

“We are using the survey as a tool to gauge the feelings of the community on this issue,” he said. “We have a lot of information that we have gathered and are considering all of it when coming to a decision.

“The school board will need the financial backing of the community, whether through a bond issue or private donations, to proceed with this project, so community opinion is a very important component,” Jackson added.

Gamble said the committee has been very busy over the past six months.

“We have compiled and studied a lot of information in this time (and) I feel we have taken great care in putting together our three proposals so that, when we make our recommendation to the board, we are making a very informed decision,” she noted.

Jackson also spoke about the diversity — and work ethic — of the Stadium Committee.

“This is a diverse committee with a wide variety of experience, backgrounds, and opinions,” he said. “Through many meetings and considerable research, the stadium issue was investigated from several angles, with the end product being three well-vetted options.

“We are now interested in getting the thoughts and input of the community,” Jackson added.

The Van Wert independent is assisting in this effort by publishing stories on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week detailing each of the three options, as well as providing a line-by-line cost estimate for each project. Option A will be in Wednesday’s edition, while Option B will be detailed on Thursday, and Option C on Friday. This coming Saturday, September 30, at midnight, the online survey will go live so that community members can voice their input and preference.

In addition, Stadium Committee members will discuss the three options on WERT Radio (1220 AM) from 8-8:30 a.m. this Saturday.

The survey will close at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, and results will then be tabulated by the Ohio School Boards Association, which assisted in creating the survey. The Stadium Committee will then look at the results and use the input in making its recommendation to the school board.

Ultimately, though, the decision on what stadium option is chosen rests with the Van Wert City Board of Education. However, all five board members have said they would seriously consider the results of the survey and the committee’s recommendation in deciding what option to pursue.

POSTED: 09/25/17 at 7:36 am. FILED UNDER: News