December 21, 2014

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North Ridgeville puts new stadium on fast track

Water stands on the sideline of the North Ridgeville High School football stadium Friday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Water stands on the sideline of the North Ridgeville High School football stadium Friday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Like a receiver who stuns the crowd with an unexpected touchdown grab out of the backfield, school officials are planning a blitz of their own when it comes to a new $8 million football stadium.

The stadium is part of a major project dominated by a new third- through eighth-grade middle school for which voters approved a $58.1 million bond issue Tuesday.

“We’re on the fast track and hoping to have this stadium finished and ready to be playing games there for keeps by the end of next August,” said William Greene, assistant superintendent of building services for North Ridgeville Schools.

That issue includes funds for an estimated $8 million, 5,000-seat stadium that will replace the aging field and stands now behind North Ridgeville Middle School.

The new field will be built on land adjacent to North Ridgeville High School, where the new middle school will be constructed as well.

“Take away the winter months and that leaves the period essentially from March to July,” Greene said.

Even with an architectural firm and contractor in place and ready to go by spring, officials know it’s going to be a lot of work to excavate and prepare land, including building a multilane track surrounding the football field, as well as new home and visitor stands and installing lighting to be ready for the 2014 season.

And that’s assuming Mother Nature doesn’t make things difficult.

“There are always unforeseen circumstances such as getting a harsh winter or an exceptionally wet spring and summer,” Greene said.

For the 2015 football season, North Ridgeville will move from the West Shore Conference to Southwestern Conference, whose members include Avon Lake, Amherst, North Olmsted and Westlake.

“We want to be in full swing by the time we join the new conference,” Greene said. “We will definitely hold our own in terms of facilities.”

The current stadium field dates to the 1930s and its stands were built about 1960.

The day after the election, administrators and school board members met for three hours to discuss the new school and stadium.

That followed earlier meetings the same day with an attorney who specializes in school construction, and officials from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

The state agency approved $8.9 million for the new school after ranking it first among 24 Ohio school projects that sought state financial aid for new buildings through the commission’s Exceptional Needs program.

On Friday, Greene and other local school officials toured Mayfield High School’s Wildcat Stadium, which opened in 2012.

The 4,500-seat stadium includes a synthetic-turf field and 400 “premium” seats with seatbacks located between the 35-yard lines.

“They charge a dollar more for those seats than the typical bleacher seats, but they’re a nice convenience for fans,” Greene said.

Other districts such as Brunswick and North Royalton charge $12 and $20 respectively for seatback seats, Greene said.

Other upgrades being eyed by North Ridgeville include an eight-lane running track, new concession stands and press box.

A committee of representatives and coaches from the district’s football, soccer and track programs, along with administrators, is being formed to get a feel for what each group would like to see in the new facility.

Plans call for the stadium architecture to blend into that of the new school, which likely won’t be ready sooner than the 2015-16 school year.

North Ridgeville hopes to be able to begin advertising for proposals from architectural firms in December, after OSFC officials provide the district with a list of qualifications those firms must have to submit plans.

“There’s a lot of nervous energy here,” Greene said. “It’s good. We’ve waited so long for this.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.