Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE VISION FOR EGGERSS STADIUM?
Together, with the support of community members, Van Wert City Schools’ board of education, superintendent, and administration envision preserving the iconic Eggerss Stadium to create a multi-purpose outdoor space in downtown Van Wert.
After renovations, including the installation of artificial turf, Eggerss Stadium will be an accessible space the entire community can enjoy. It could be used as an outdoor entertainment venue, a "green space" for youth programs, a place to host youth sports, a practice space for baseball and softball when their fields are wet, and more.
As downtown Van Wert continues to evolve into an exciting entertainment destination, renovating Eggerss Stadium fits perfectly into the preservation of our historic downtown.
WHAT RENOVATIONS WILL TAKE PLACE?
Renovations will begin as early as possible while preserving the 2022 football season at Eggerss Stadium. All renovations will focus on three key components - safety and accessibility, expanded usability, and preservation of tradition. Preliminary plans include the following renovations:
- Concrete restoration of stadium infrastructure
- Widening aisles and adding handrails
- Replacing safety railings
- Handicap seating & accessibility in the stadium
- Artificial turf field
- New concession stand under the stadium
- New concession building with restrooms and storage in the south end zone
- New, larger restrooms for both men and women under the stadium
- New Cougar Pride Marching Band bleachers in the south end zone
- Expanded home side press box designed as a multi-purpose space
- Additional parking (150+ spots off Crawford St.)
- New Cougar Football locker room under the stadium
- Storage under the stadium
- Preservation of the Cougar Pride Wall
WHAT IS THE COST OF RENOVATIONS?
After a thorough analysis, the budget is estimated to be $5 million, which will be funded primarily through a 20-year bond on the May 2022 ballot. Interest rates cannot be secured until the issue passes, but at the time of this publication, the annual cost for an individual owning a home with a $100,000 taxable value is approximately $40 per year.
ARE THERE ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THESE EFFORTS?
There will be numerous opportunities for naming rights, and other fundraising efforts may take place throughout the project.
WHY NOT RAISE PRIVATE FUNDS, INCLUDING NAMING RIGHTS, PRIOR TO PLACING IT ON THE BALLOT?
In September 2018, the VWCS Board of Education contracted with Howard Benson, CEO of National Community Development Services, to conduct a Feasibility Study. Mr. Benson met with several community members to ascertain their interest in providing financial support for this project. The results fell very short of expectations; Mr. Benson concluded that only $1.2 million could be raised in private funds. It was determined that either a sole donor willing to provide a large portion of funds or a successful bond issue would be needed to pay the difference.
VWCS takes its fiscal responsibilities very seriously and therefore the plans for the stadium are not extravagant. Private contributions will be used to enhance the current plans at the wishes of the donor(s), and naming rights may be granted. Monies raised above and beyond the needs of the stadium will be placed in the Athletics Facilities fund to help maintain the stadium for decades to come.
WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM STRATEGY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE FACILITY? CAN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S CURRENT OPERATING BUDGET SUPPORT IT?
VWCS has two funds that will be used to maintain the stadium long-term: an Athletics Facility Fund and the Permanent Improvement Fund. The Athletics Facility Fund is relatively new and will be used to help maintain several athletic facilities: Eggerss Stadium, the track, the tennis complex, and multiple basketball courts. The Permanent Improvement Fund is currently paying off debts accumulated by the lighting project and visitor bleachers at Eggerss Stadium. Once those debts are paid off, that fund will be available to help maintain the stadium. With the installation of artifical turf, VWCS expects to save at least $25,000 a year in field maintenance alone.
There are many great plans in place for our city's future; Van Wert is thriving and the energy of downtown is palpable. Renovating Eggerss Stadium is an excellent opportunity to create a positive impact on our community while preserving the history of downtown.
Additionally, bond rates are historically low, allowing VWCS to maximize the investment of our stakeholders.
How We Got Here - The History Behind the Decision to Renovate Eggerss Stadium
In December 2016, a Stadium Committee was formed to help VWCS determine how to proceed with the dilemma of the aging Eggerss Stadium; issues of safety and accessibility were becoming more apparent with each passing year.
A Stadium Survey was offered to the public in October 2017, with three options:
- Renovate Eggerss Stadium
- Demolish and rebuild on the current stadium site
- Build a new complex at the current high school campus
The Stadium Committee wanted to ensure that all three options presented were state-of-the art, long lasting, and something that Van Wert could be proud of for a very long time. Roughly 71% of respondents chose renovating Eggerss Stadium as their first preference.
During the December 2017 Board of Education meeting, the board authorized to begin strategic planning to address the Eggerss Stadium Project.
Through 2018 and into 2019, the Stadium Committee continued to work hard to evaluate the scope of this project, including design, cost, timing, and fundraising. However, the most pressing need at this time was the visitor bleachers at Eggerss Stadium. The BOE approved the use of up to $300,000 in Permanent Improvement funds to replace the visitor bleachers as well as several other improvements, prior to the 2018 football season.
In September 2018, the BOE contracted with Howard Benson, CEO of National Community Development Services to conduct a Feasibility Study, a face-to-face interview with individuals from the community to ascertain their interest in providing financial support for this project.
The results of the Feasibility Study fell very short of the expectations; Mr. Benson concluded approximately $1 million could be raised in private funds. His professional opinion was that VWCS could not move forward with the Stadium Project without either a sole donor willing to provide a large portion of the funds or a successful bond issue to pay for the difference.
Since 2019, the Board of Education has continued to discuss the Stadium Project and how best to proceed, all while keeping the results of both the Stadium Survey and Mr. Benson’s Feasibility Study in mind.
2020 was a difficult year for education nationwide due to the pandemic. The 2021 school year has started off as “normal” as possible for VWCS and our students’ education remains our highest priority. However, with bond rates at a historical low, VWCS has decided the time is now. By placing the Eggerss Stadium Renovations on the May 2022 ballot, it allows us to maximize the investment of our stakeholders at the lowest cost possible.
WHAT PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE STADIUM WILL THERE BE OUTSIDE OF SPORTING EVENTS?
The installation of artificial turf will allow Eggerss Stadium and the press box to become a multi-purpose venue. VWCS welcomes any ideas for how the stadium could be used outside of athletics, and we invite community members to work with us on how to make it happen. We envision events such as concerts, dance/cheer/band competitions and performances, and youth activities, but all things are possible.
WILL LOCAL CONTRACTORS BE USED FOR THIS PROJECT?
Garmann Miller, located in Minster, Ohio, is the board-approved architect that will be providing professional services related to planning, design, and construction. It is our intention to use local contractors when possible, and all local contractors are invited to submit bids for the project. However, the school district has an obligation to be fiscally responsible when considering all bids.
IS THE STADIUM PROJECT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OR DOES IT HAVE SUPPORT FROM VAN WERT FORWARD?
The Eggerss Stadium Renovation Project is a standalone project. Van Wert Forward is an extension of the Van Wert County Foundation and therefore cannot publicly support any issue being placed before voters. While the Van Wert Forward initiative remains neutral, many of the individuals involved with Van Wert Forward support the project on a personal level. We all have the same goal for Van Wert and that is to preserve our beautiful, historic downtown while providing a space the entire community can enjoy.
WILL THE BAND CONTINUE TO USE THE EXISTING MUSIC ROOM? WILL THERE BE ADDITIONAL BAND STORAGE SPACE?
We will continue to make good use of existing space, and that includes the Goedde music room. Preliminary plans include additional storage for the band closer to the field and new band bleachers.
WHAT ABOUT THE DISTRICT'S OTHER NEEDS?
Our district has many elements that it maintains, and we recognize our other needs, such as a bus barn and baseball/softball complex. However, the time has come that the safety and accessibility concerns of the stadium must be addressed as the next highest priority.
Safety is the top priority. By restoring the stadium concrete, the structural integrity will be preserved for years to come. The stadium aisleways will be widened and handrails will be added to provide ease of movement up and down the steps, and new railings will be installed at the front and top of the stadium.
Artificial turf also provides athletes with a consistent playing surface.
An elevator/lift will be added to the home side of the stadium, providing wheelchairs access to a platform. New ramps and other means of accessibility will be added to create a handicap-accessible space in the stadium to enhance viewer experience.
The visitor side was updated in 2018 with handicap-accessible bleachers that are up to current codes.
The grassy space to the south of the stadium and the current parking lot to the west of the stadium can be expanded for additional parking, providing 150+ spots off Crawford Street. During football games, a portion of Jefferson Street can be closed off to provide additional parking near the visitor’s entrance.
A stand-alone concession building with restrooms will be located behind the south end zone. This building will be easily accessible by both home and away fans during football games and will contain storage for the marching band.
A new, larger concession stand will also be constructed under the stadium.
Both men’s and women’s restrooms will be greatly expanded and enhanced with automatic fixtures and HVAC. Additional restrooms will also be available in the concession building behind the south end zone.
A HISTORY OF EGGERSS STADIUM
Eggerss Stadium was built in 1936 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's government-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA). Hans A. Eggerss, inventor of the fiber drum and founder of the former Continental Can Company in Van Wert, loaned the money to the school system for materials. The facility was unofficially named Eggerss Stadium in his honor.
The first football game in the new stadium was played on September 18, 1936, between Van Wert and South High School from Fort Wayne, Indiana. 1936 was also the inaugural year for the Western Buckeye League with Van Wert, Wapakoneta, Celina, and St. Marys joining as the first members.
Since then, Van Wert has claimed the WBL Championship 18 times, appeared at State playoffs five times, claimed one State Runner-Up and one State Championship.
Van Wert High School Commencement was also held in Eggerss Stadium for a number of years, weather-permitting.
For a detailed history courtesy of Times Bulletin, please click here.
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