Spratt stadium renovation planned with hesitation, over budget

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After receiving three contract estimates that were each over budget, Ellison-Auxier Architects, Western’s architecture contractor, has restructured the plans for Spratt Stadium in an attempt to scale back costs.

In the fall 2014 semester, Western's master planners concluded that Spratt Stadium would have to be demolished and replaced.
In the fall 2014 semester, Western’s master planners concluded that Spratt Stadium would have to be demolished and replaced.

Crawford Construction came back with the lowest bid, just under $9 million— $1.2 million over Western’s budget for the project.

Kurt McGuffin, Western’s director of athletics, says that the project cutbacks should significantly reduce the final cost of the renovations.

“At this point… it’s close to $6.8, $6.9 [million], and we’re still negotiating,” McGuffin said.

The decreased budget means decreased features.

One of the first expenses to be cut was an updated field-lighting system.

“We were going to move the four lights stands, and replace those in some pieces,” McGuffin said. “That cut quite a bit off [the costs].”

Ellison-Auxier also reduced the external masonry, chose a less expensive heating-and-cooling system, limited the suite rooms from fourteen to twelve and scaled back the four restrooms to two.

In order to pay for the renovations, Western is looking at four revenue areas:

  • Centennial Capital Campaign funding
  • Revenue made by the stadium
  • A $5.5 million bond
  • Auxiliary funding

Once the project is voted on and bids are placed, Western will take out a $5.5 million bond set for 20 years.

However, McGuffin is hopeful that, with funding from the Centennial Capital Campaign, Western will have the bonds called relatively soon.

“We’re hoping that by the fifth year [of the Campaign], where that money is paid and we can take all the money that we’ve raised and put it toward the bond,” McGuffin said. “We don’t have $7 million up front, so we’re going to have to bond it.”

Revenue from the stadium will also help to pay off the bond. The majority of this revenue will come from the twelve suites within the press box. Together, the suites are expected to provide $200,000 annually.

Cale Fessler, vice president for financial planning and administration, suggests that Western has available funding to assist with the bond payments.

“Our auxiliary system, which is residence halls and things like that, are the revenues that we pledge to those bonds,” Fessler said. This means that revenue made by Western from room and board will assist with paying off Spratt renovations.

The timeline for the renovations is still in question. Although the Board of Governors will meet Thursday, Fessler doubts that the new Spratt bids will be ready by the meeting.

“At this point, it’s still in the bid process and we’re still looking through those bids,” Fessler said. “We obviously don’t want to delay anything, but we’ve got to be pretty diligent going through those figures and get down to the dollar figure we’re comfortable with.”

If the bids are not finalized before the Thursday meeting, the Board of Governors will have to wait until their May meeting to possibly vote on them.

But there is still time to consider the three separate bids and the features, since the stadium is not even projected to be finished until Jan. 2016.

McGuffin is concerned with this timeline, since it has a serious impact on Western football and soccer games.

“None of the building will be done for the [2015 athletics] season,” McGuffin said. “We’re looking at a temporary press box [for the season].”

Although the building construction will have only just begun, Fessler is confident that the field and bleacher improvements will be complete before the first Western home game Sept. 12.

“Based on the construction estimates, we’ll be able to meet that timeline,” Fessler said. “In terms of ‘have we finalized an agreement with some other place to play right now?’ No, we haven’t.”

“It’s still going to be a great project,” McGuffin said.

“It’s still going to be one that every fan that walks in there is going to have a new experience.”

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