District unveils Skyline High School stadium plans
February 5, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
Superintendent Steve Rasmussen has given the Issaquah School District the OK to move forward on a nearly $6.5 million facelift for the stadium at Skyline High School.
Rasmussen signed off on the project Jan. 24, the day after he and the school board received a presentation on the topic during the board’s regular business meeting.
The improvement project includes moving the home side to the west side of the field where new covered aluminum bleachers will have seats for 2,500 Spartans fans. New support facilities, including locker rooms, restrooms and concessions, will form a horseshoe around the south end of the field where a large scoreboard will be a feature element.
“We are trying to maximize what we can get built,” said Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the district. “We’ve been having district discussions and it’s the only option that fits within the budget. It minimizes the impact to scheduled school activities on the field.”
Crawford was part of a committee made up of four community representatives and seven Skyline staff members, including coaches, which has been discussing the topic since July. While it was not a unanimous vote by the committee, the design, he said, has the support of the majority, including Skyline’s athletic director, principal and football coach Mat Taylor.
According to Crawford, the stadium could be ready for September home football games. The original goal, Principal Lisa Hechtman said, was not to lose any home games for any sport. However, she wants the Spartans to be prepared for delays.
“What I have learned in doing construction jobs with schools is that it never goes completely totally one-off the plan. You go with plan A and you just have plan B waiting in the wings all the time,” Hechtman said. “Now that we have the idea that we can move forward, it allows my A.D. (athletic director) to start planning.”
Unlike Issaquah and Liberty high schools, Skyline’s stadium doesn’t have covered seating on the home side. Changing that became reality last April when voters approved a $219 million bond, which included $6.485 million for the project.
Various other designs and bid options have been considered since then but were abandoned after estimates came in over budget. The only one that didn’t go over is a mixed-contract approach. By separating the project into three separate bid packages, in which a general contractor will only be hired to build the new support facilities, the district will save almost $2 million.
This means that the district will be more involved in the project’s management, Crawford said, but it allows it to get more done with a smaller amount of time and money.
“When you are starting into an opportunity like this, it’s your opportunity to dream,” Hechtman said.
She explained that when it first met, the committee wrote a long wish list that included more storage, shelter from the weather, concrete bleachers and increased usability for teaching and community events.
“Everything was on the table, and then we just started looking at how do you get the biggest bang for your buck,” Hechtman said. “It’s like trying to cook spaghetti … whatever sticks to the wall.”
The design includes a cantilever roof, a big must for the committee because it doesn’t use view-obstructing support poles in the middle of the seating. It will also give the school more than 3,500 square feet of dry storage. Right now, the field’s storage is under the bleachers, which is the low point in the drainage system, so having dry storage sounds heavenly, Hechtman said.
Hechtman and Crawford said that moving the home seating to the west side of the field was favored by many of the coaches because it would mean the sun would no longer be glaring in their eyes during games and much of the wind would be blocked during track and field meets.
But not everyone is happy with the design. Some community members feel moving home side seating to the west goes against tradition. The debate came to a head last fall when the committee gridlocked on the topic, Crawford said.
Mike Shin, a Skyline parent, spoke at the Jan. 23 school board meeting urging the district not to rush to a decision about the home side. He also said he is against building the cheaper aluminum seating instead of concrete grandstands.
“I don’t want to throw money away here. We fought very hard to get the $6.5 million. We don’t want aluminium bleachers,” he said. “I just want to make sure that you are looking at all the avenues here and I don’t think you are.”
Crawford said that while concrete is nice, it’s not cost effective and that the consensus in the committee was to spend the money on the cantilever roof instead.