Tipp board votes to keep stadium in City Park

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City school board voted Monday night to keep the stadium in its current City Park location, subject to receiving the support promised by the city as well as private funding through the Tipp Pride Association.

The board voted four to one in favor of the location, with board member Theresa Dunaway voting no.

The project depends on $350,000 of in-kind work promised by the city, which would reduce the estimated cost to build a new stadium in City Park.

According to the district’s architect Mike Ruetschle, the cost to build a new stadium in City Park would be about $5.6 million if the city helps with various improvements including parking improvements and new restrooms.

Ruetschle also noted that results of soil borings performed at the high school showed bedrock as close as three feet away from the surface, causing the cost estimates to rise to $7.4 million.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Board president Sam Spano said. He noted that there is currently no timeline for the project, but that identifying a location was key in being able to move forward.

Dunaway cited concerns about a possible lack of support for the project from residents who wanted the stadium moved to the high school, as well as concerns about the district building on city owned land.

The stadium property is owned by the city but leased long-term by the school board, which is responsible for maintaining the grounds, buildings and structures.

Athletic Director J.D. Foust said that he was in favor of whichever option made the most sense economically. He noted that the city’s promise to help with in-kind work made the option of staying in City Park attractive.

“I’m excited to see where the school and the city are right now in this process. I know the last few months we’ve been working together and collaborating,” Foust said. “There’s a lot of positivity there.”

Foust added that in discussions with alumni, many have told him that they would be willing to donate to a project that kept the stadium in its traditional location.

The project also depends on private fundraising through the Tipp Pride Association.

Tipp Pride Association Vice President Scott George told the board Monday night that with the announcement of a location, the organization would be ready to pursue funding for the project.

The group of residents and business owners formed last year with the goal of raising enough to fund the project. According to George, the association expects to be able to raise $2 million to $2.5 million in the sale of naming rights and sponsorships for the stadium. The remaining funds would likely come from local small businesses, community organizations, individual donations, and fundraising events.

He added that the success of the fundraising efforts rely on “the ability to pull on the heartstrings of those people we’re asking to give.”

“We’ve seen a pretty even split or just indifference to the location in the younger parents and those that didn’t grow up here. We’ve seen a much stronger push for the park from those who grew up in Tipp and the older population, and a lot of those folks are the ones that have the funds and are generous with the funds,” George said.