Vicksburg close to procuring fieldhouse

Published 11:23 am Friday, March 2, 2012

If you build it, they will come. At least that’s what the Vicksburg High football program hopes will be the ultimate result of a new fieldhouse.

In a workshop meeting Thursday, members of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees decided to build an 8,500-square-foot metal building west of Memorial Stadium, facing Third Street.

Board Vice President Bryan Pratt said this morning that board members would be polled by telephone today for approval to seek bids for construction.

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JBHM Architects, which presented plans Thursday for a metal building that would include a weight room, a locker room with 100 lockers, an equipment closet and coaches’ offices, estimated the cost at $872,380.

The date for construction on the new building depends on engineering work and procuring the metal building.

Initially, the board wanted to refurbish the old facility, much like was done last year with Warren Central’s fieldhouse. But a cost analysis by JBHM showed new construction would be less expensive and eliminate the need to move a utility pole. The cost of gutting and renovating the existing fieldhouse was estimated by JBHM at $900,000 to $1 million.

“I think when you give your kids a better area to work in and they’re more comfortable in, it gives them something to be proud of,” district athletic director Lum Wright said. “When you try to put in a weight room and put in 80 kids on top of it, it’s just not comfortable.”

Plans unveiled Thursday are similar to a new facility at Starkville High and will be a big jump in amentities and size, with a larger weight room, equipment room and training area than the old building.

“I was a little surprised,” Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said. “It does create a bit of an inequity, but it’s not a purposeful inequity, because at the end of the day, they need a new building. We can refurbish the old building for soccer and other sports and look back at Warren Central and try to see what they need, because I try to be pretty equal with both schools. We could not do it the same year as Warren Central for reasons that were more fiscal than anything else.”

The money will come from a combination of capital outlays and the general fund and will be paid upon the start of construction.

The district last year delayed a decision on Vicksburg’s football facilities while addressing a less-expensive need with Warren Central’s football program.

Warren Central added a new weight room to its football fieldhouse at a cost of $160,186 with an expansion of its existing facility. New lockers also were installed.

Swinford said that Vicksburg’s old fieldhouse would be slightly refurbished for use by other sports, such as soccer, and district maintenance crews and contractors would do the work after the new building’s completion.

“When I got the job, I took a look at both fieldhouses,” Swinford said. “I knew looking at Vicksburg, the work was going to be massive. Vicksburg is going to make out like a bandit with it, but it’s being a better steward of taxpayers’ money by keeping both. Our facilities do not get us a sense of pride right now and they are screaming for help. This is a step in the right direction.”

Fieldhouses for girls sports at both schools, as well as a baseball fieldhouse at Vicksburg, have all been built in the past decade.