The architect’s rendering for future athletic areas at Derby High School is shown above. A new $1.5 million football field and track are included in district capital outlay planning. The plan includes an eight-lane, 400 meter synthetic track and and artificial turf football field with bleachers to seat 500. Further in the future, the plan is to upgrade soccer and band practice areas and add three tennis courts on the south side of the current courts.
Derby Public Schools could soon construct a new football field and track much closer to the high school than Panther Stadium.
Tom Snodgrass, director of operations at the school district, unveiled schematic designs to the school board for an eight-lane, 400-meter synthetic track enccircling a turf football field near the south end of Derby High School.
The $1.5 million project, which is funded by capital outlay and not the school bond, will need approval from the school board at its next meeting on Nov. 13 to proceed to the design and development stage.
The area for the new football field and track is currently an open grass area used for practice by various athletic teams and school organizations.
The area, which varies in elevation, is currently being surveyed, Snodgrass said. The survey will also address drainage issues on the property near James Street.
“There are definitely elevation changes on this site,” Snodgrass said. “We also have some drainage issues on the north end of the site. We are going to try to address all of that at the same time.”
The proposed football field and track will be similar to Panther Stadium, said design architect Gary Holler, with Schaefer Johnson Cox and Frey Architecture.
“The property south of the high school is very tiered. A survey will be able to show us where those tiers are located right now and where the best location is. We may tweak it east and west a little bit, but right now this is the best location for it,” Holler said. “It will be considered a practice field right now, but with the understanding that things do grow. As time goes this may turn into something bigger than that.”
Design plans include sidewalk access to the track and football field. Bleacher seating for 500 spectators was also integrated into the design, but a master plan will encourage growth well beyond that, Holler said.
The master plan could include another football field to the east, two soccer fields to the west, and an additional 50-yard practice football field to the north. Three new tennis courts could also be added to the current tennis complex at the high school.
Additional parking and 6,000 total bleacher seats (4,000 home seats, and 2,000 visitor seats) could be added in the distant future, Snodgrass said. Panther Stadium currently has bleacher seating for an estimated 4,000 spectators.
“The 6,000 spectator capacity most likely will be well in the future, though,” Snodgrass said. “I think the 500-seat bleachers will be the only ones for quite some time.”
Additional restrooms and a concession stand could also find their way into future plans, but are not budgeted in the $1.5 million project, Snodgrass said.
“As it stands right now, there is $1.5 million allocated to build this track and field,” said Snodgrass. “There is not money for additional restrooms. At least in the short-term, students and athletes will be using the building’s restrooms for those facilities.”
Snodgrass has had lengthy meetings with district administrators, who agreed the project could bloom after the initial track and football field is built.
“We are trying to think to the future on this site plan and provide future boards of education with the opportunity to take this further,” Snodgrass said. “That could include bleachers. That could include restrooms, concession stand, and other amenities that would provide even a better location for a competition field.”
"Look at our neighbors to the south, Mulvane, they have updated their stadium and it looks great! We do need a real entrance to our Derby stadium and some renovations but I think we could put this money to better use in other areas."
"What no pool, main Gymnasium expansion, or perhaps a auditorium upgrade? Since capital outlay has to be spent on facilities, then why not add to or update the facilities to the standard of other 6A schools. I don't think that we are lacking in area of football facilities at this time."
"Why do we need another football field and/or track? We have spent a lot of money on the current Panther Stadium to make it a very good facility. I don't understand why we need to spend $1.5 million to build a sub-par stadium."