Zaepfel Stadium will get its long-delayed renovation after all. But the cost and just how much of the stadium will be upgraded are still undetermined.
Architects in charge of the project presented their latest plans for the 50-year-old complex at Friday’s Yakima school board meeting, where it was decided that further analysis is needed.
The Zaepfel portion of the new $108 million-plus Eisenhower High School has been a contentious issue at least since August 2011 when bids for the school came in higher than expected. Stadium upgrades were subsequently shelved. In March, coaches and athletic boosters criticized the school district for not having a timeline or budget for the shopworn stadium, which some have dubbed “mud stadium.”
But news that the project is back in focus was welcomed Friday.
“I felt the meeting was the board very much making a commitment — a start — to fix the stadium this summer,” said Phil English over the phone Friday — a science teacher at Ike and track and field coach who has been outspoken over the benefits of fixing up Zaepfel.
Early cost estimates range from $5 million to $5.6 million for a new track, artificial turf and stadium lighting. Additional features proposed that would cost extra include improved concessions and restrooms, ticket booths and a two-story press box. New bleachers are currently not in the plans.
An updated project timeline suggests the track, field and lights could be ready by next fall.
The board had tentatively scheduled a public meeting on the stadium issue in January, but that has been moved to February.
Dennis Dean, principal with KDF Architecture, said the upcoming holidays and the re-evaluation of total cost estimates would have made it difficult for them to meet in January.
Yakima school board member Walt Ranta agreed it was best for both the school board and KDF to push the meeting to the second or third week in February to be better prepared for the expected public comment. There were lengthy public discussions when the 2009 bond was proposed.
“They (the public) want descriptions and designs and everything else — something they can sink their teeth into,” he said.
How much of the stadium the district will be able to renovate will be discussed by the board over the next two months, board President Martha Rice said. Some upgrades might have to be paid with donations, she said.
English, the track coach, said a new track is necessary and should be a high priority given it was not intended to last 10 years beyond its installation date of 1991.
Also pleased that the stadium upgrades are back on the agenda is board member-elect Jeni Rice, who called Friday’s meeting a “good start” on the revival of the project. Rice attended Friday morning but as an “observer” for now, she said.
Rice will be sworn in Tuesday at the board’s business meeting. Departing board member Graciela Villanueva was given a farewell send-off by the board. Villanueva was appointed in fall 2011.