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'Mini-stadium' possible for Raiders; structure would be used primarily for soccer, field hockey

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/21/18

Consultants are proposing two concepts for a new “mini-stadium” on the main Middletown Area School District campus that mostly would be used for soccer and field hockey.

The field also …

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'Mini-stadium' possible for Raiders; structure would be used primarily for soccer, field hockey

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Consultants are proposing two concepts for a new “mini-stadium” on the main Middletown Area School District campus that mostly would be used for soccer and field hockey.

The field also would be used for football, although the varsity football team’s main venue would continue to be War Memorial Field next to Fink Elementary School.

The mini-stadium would be used by other levels of football, such as junior varsity and younger, school district Chief Financial Officer David Franklin told the Press & Journal.

The mini-stadium is among projects included in a preliminary version of a master plan of outdoor school district athletic facilities being prepared by Architerra, of Coopersburg. The school board in September hired Architerra to draw up the master plan at a cost of $23,000.

The plan is a work in progress, with more meetings yet to be held of a steering committee consisting of representatives from Architerra, the school district and  school board.

Board members discussed the mini-stadium proposal during a joint meeting of the board’s athletic and operations committees on Feb. 13, during which Architerra representatives were present. The board is to next take up the master plan during its March 6 agenda-setting meeting.

The consultants are proposing synthetic turf for the mini-stadium, because its maintenance costs are less than that of natural grass.

Synthetic turf also could reduce or eliminate the district having to add more new athletic fields, because synthetic turf can better withstand use compared to natural grass, David Horn of Architerra told the board during an earlier master plan discussion on Jan. 23.

For example, a new field with synthetic turf can handle more events at lower maintenance cost than natural grass.

At present, the number of events being held on district athletic fields is “not sustainable” for the future, Horn told the board on Jan. 23.

One scenario for the mini-stadium proposes locating it just south of Reid Elementary School, on what is now called Field Nine.

The second scenario would place it in front of the main high school, using what are now referred to as Fields Three and Four.

Both scenarios call for up to 759 seats at the mini-stadium, which Architerra said would allow the school district to host playoff games held by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

That many seats could also make the mini-stadium more attractive to hosting collegiate-level events held by Penn State Harrisburg, and possibly other colleges and universities in the region.

At an estimated cost of $3.3 million, the mini-stadium is the most expensive of 27 projects that Architerra has included in a draft project priorities list.

The list includes improvements to outdoor athletic facilities districtwide, among them significant upgrades to War Memorial Stadium and its supporting facilities.

The board committees on Feb. 13 also heard a presentation from Franklin about using the district’s capital reserve to pay for whatever projects in the master plan that the board would want to undertake.

Franklin advised the board that it must balance the athletic master plan projects with other needs throughout the district that also rely on the capital reserve, such as an upcoming renovation that will be needed of Kunkel Elementary School.