Blackhawk plans new stadium

10 May 2017

After more than a year of planning and fundraising, the Blackhawk School District could begin construction on new multipurpose athletic complex on the high school campus.

The school board is set to vote at Thursday’s meeting on a series of project plans and final estimates from its construction contractors, district solicitor Hobart Webster said. If the estimates are approved, groundbreaking will take place shortly after the end of the school year.

The district plans for the project to be completed in time for the fall 2017 sports season. The complex will allow the district to host almost all home sporting events at one venue, Superintendent Rob Postupac said.

This fall, that will include 45 home events among sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse.

The complex will be constructed behind the high school on the same stretch of field that houses the school track. The track will be left intact and will encircle the new turf football field.

Blackhawk has received a final estimate of $2.18 million for the project, which includes: turf field installation, grandstand seating for around 2,000 fans, a press box and retrofitting the current lighting. The board expects fundraising efforts by a coalition of alumni and parents to offset the cost to the district.

The board will also vote on some design elements, including the color of the bleachers and the field’s endzone, Webster said.

The finished product will also include bathrooms, which will be housed in converted maintenance buildings located next to the track, board President Perry Pander said. The buildings are already outfitted with plumbing, electricity and heat, so Pander said he expects the bulk of that expense will be associated with installing bathroom fixtures.  

Blackhawk's board expects to complete the construction in two phases. Initially the second phase would have encompassed restrooms, locker rooms and concessions stands. In the meantime, players and spectators would have used portable toilets and the restrooms and locker room facilities located inside the high school.

That plan changed because building codes set forth a ratio of permanent restroom facilities that must be available for the number of seats.

The district may be able to host events at the athletic complex for a short time before the permanent restrooms are completed, as long as Chippewa Township officials issue a conditional use permit.

The board is in discussions with township officials, Pander said.

Donations and sponsorships secured through the Blackhawk Activities and Athletic Group will offset the project’s $2.18 million cost.

BAAG, a group of about 15 parents and alumni, launched two fundraising campaigns last summer: a memorial brick sale and a stadium sponsorship drive open to regional businesses.

As of Monday, the group had obtained about $705,750 in brick sales, sponsorships and service donations, BAAG chairman Tom Petti said.

BAAG’s fundraising efforts will be put toward payments on a $4 million bond, which in part, will go toward financing stadium construction.

Through the committee’s sponsorship drive, five groups have committed $400,000 to advertising space on the facility’s field, scoreboard, main entryway, press box and for the facility itself.

The sponsors’ contracts stipulate that they will pay an annual amount for a period of either five or 10 years. Sponsorships include: Tim Davis Family, $250,000 total for stadium and field naming rights; McElwain Motors, $75,000 for main scoreboard sponsorship; Premier Therapy, Z Pub n Diner and First National Bank, $25,000 each for scoreboard block sponsorships.

Dave Nicely, a Blackhawk alumnus who owns Darlington-based Nicely Contracting, has offered to donate excavation services for the project -- which could cut about $100,000 from the total price.

Also committed to donate money or services are Richwell Custom Homes and W.D. Wright Contracting.

Toshiba has also donated a video scoreboard -- about a $110,000 value.

To date, the brick sale has raised more than $20,000. Memorial bricks range in price from $100 to $2,500 based on size and will embellish the stadium’s walkway and memorial wall.

In November, Black Dot Wireless purchased rights to the cellular towers on the high school property for $130,000, all of which will go toward the project’s lighting costs, Webster said.