Kearney Football Stadium To See New Improvements

After years of hearing from families and figuring out a way to pay for construction costs, the Kearney School District is moving ahead on plans for a high school stadium project. This comes after having selected Universal Construction Co. of Kansas City, Kansas, as construction manager, having worked with design firm DLR to forward initial designs and having purchased new bleachers.

“We needed to get out and get that lead time for the bleachers because they take about four weeks to fabricate,” Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Student Services Jeff Morrison said Monday, Jan. 14, of work completed on the project before school let out for winter break. “Hanson Sports (of Kansas City) came in under budget …” The total for the bleachers is roughly $844,000.

The phased-in project will replace home side seating, add landscaping and replace concession structures and restrooms at the high school, 715 E. 19th St.

Once complete, the project will create a promenade effect between the new high school gymnasium and the football stadium with new and improved pedestrian access with Americans With Disabilities Act sidewalks with handrails along better access throughout the stadium to the track.

There will also be an improved bowl and seating with better sightlines totaling a capacity of 2,590 seats, which includes ADA seating; a concourse level that provides a family restroom, elevator, storage and school merchandise store, state-of-the-art, custom press box with separate spaces for print, radio and television media; and coaches.

The press box area will also include a rooftop platform for broadcasting cameras for school and other media outlets.

“The goal is that by the first football game on Aug. 30, we have those home side seats done and the press box,” Morrison said.

The plan is being paid for with capital projects money in the budget along with money raised from future fundraising efforts.

“It’s important to note this is not bond dollars, but projects that have been saved up for over time,” Morrison said.

The bond, approved by voters in 2017, paid for other districtwide improvements previously made including the new gym, elementary schools’ playground equipment, pending added entryway security at the junior high school, added and improved high school classrooms and the Early Education Center project.

The district, the assistant superintendent said, is confident in the plan’s timeline and ability to add what has long been needed for additional seating and ADA-compliant access. The district is also happy with its choice of construction manager.

“Universal has done a lot of work like this. They did the Liberty and Liberty North projects,” he said. “… Right now, we are looking at honing down the design, which Universal will then take that and go out to bid.”

Before selection of Universal in December, school board Vice President Dan Weakley said he has worked with the company in Grandview and had nothing but nice things to say about the firm.

“They were good district partners,” he said.

*The Courier Tribune contributed to this article

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