At a recent meeting of the Urbana City School District Board of Education, the Hillclimber Stadium Committee presented information about the development of a concept plan for a future stadium renovation project.
This group, made up of school administrators, board members, teachers, coaches, former district athletic directors, city officials, booster members, alumni and local stakeholders, has been working on this project since 2019. The committee has been working with MSA Architects out of Cincinnati on developing the overall concept plan for the project.
“The purpose of this project is to upgrade the Urbana High School Stadium to a top-notch facility for our students and community. The renovation of the stadium would benefit the majority of the high school student athletes, physical education classes, and local youth sports programs. In addition, the project could benefit the entire community through hosting a variety of events,” said Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel. “With all of the positive momentum in the Urbana community including the new school buildings, increasing local economic activity, and the potential for community growth, the committee feels like it is the perfect time to move forward with this project.”
The project concept is currently broken down into three phases that can be completed as appropriate funding is secured. Features that are part of phase one would include artificial field turf (moving the field slightly to the east for more field margin on the home side) with relocated field goal posts/nets, a retaining wall to expand the safety area around the field, new handicap accessible home bleachers with a press box, and new energy-efficient field lighting. Later phases would include updated site fencing, new locker rooms with a field house for indoor training and additional restroom facilities.
Thiel said the committee is continuing to meet and work out details of the project, including what it would cost.
“The initially-proposed phase one of the project ranges from $4.1 to 4.7 million,” he said. “At this point there has not been a determination about funding the project. The committee wanted to present the work to this point to the board to keep them informed and to publicly gauge the community interest in the project. Ideally, it would not involve district funds, but there are potential components of the venue that will need to be addressed which may require district funding. For example, although inspected annually, the home bleachers are starting to show their age and will need to be replaced at some point to avoid safety issues. In addition, the stadium lighting may be a district-funded project as we most likely would see a reduction in utility costs by replacement. Also regularly inspected, the age of the current light posts are also a future safety consideration.
“We do not have good estimates on what (other phases) might cost as there are many decisions that will need to be made about options,” Thiel added.