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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF A view of the visitors side press box and bleachers Thursday, July 20, 2017, at the Bentonville West stadium in Centerton.

BENTONVILLE -- West High School's stadium would be completed by next fall under a new plan the School District has to finance the project.

The plan involves the district spending an estimated $3.78 million to finish the stadium, thus allowing West High School to host varsity football games. The school's team now plays its home games at Bentonville High School's Tiger Stadium.

Stadium work

This shows proposed items and estimated costs to finish the stadium at Bentonville’s West High School.

Sitework: $390,669

Bleacher Seating: $789,623

Press Box: $558,819

Concessions Building: $376,199

Restroom buildings: $863,703

Visitor ticket booth: $25,071

Press box elevator: $384,695

Fire access lane: $226,932

Visitor bleacher expansion (360 seats): $110,302

Furniture, fixtures, equipment: $50,000

Total: $3,776,013

Source: Bentonville School District

Nearly half of the project's cost -- about $1.8 million -- would be financed through sponsorship contributions to the athletic department totaling $120,000 per year for 15 years, according to Janet Schwanhausser, the district's finance director.

The other $1.98 million for the stadium is what the School Board agreed to earmark for the project in July by a 5-2 vote. Scott Passmore, athletic director, said in July the board's agreement to commit seed money to the project may attract enough significant donations from businesses and community organizations to complete West High's stadium.

Passmore and Schwanhausser presented details of the plan at Monday's School Board meeting. Joe Quinn, a board member, asked Passmore why he thought the fundraising effort hasn't worked out as well as administrators had hoped it would.

"I can't answer why that hasn't happened," Passmore said. "We worked extremely hard to make that happen. It just hasn't at this time."

Passmore said, however, he's still talking to people.

"We still have some potential sponsors out there who may be willing to be the significant contribution that we talked about."

The district provided a list of 25 businesses and community partners whose combined sponsorships provide $182,085 per year for the athletic department. The district plans to use $120,000 annually from those sponsorships to repay itself for about half the cost of the stadium project.

The board will vote on whether to accept the financing plan at its next meeting on Oct. 23.

West High's football field includes bleachers and a press box on the visitors side. The stadium, as it is, is not qualified to host varsity football games, though it is suitable for practices and games below the varsity level.

Bleachers, restrooms, a press box and a ticket booth would be among the features added under the proposed project.

West High School was built after the district earned voters' approval of a 2.9-mill tax increase in 2013. The board at the time did not ask for money to build athletic facilities at the school.

Passmore said because West High School can't play football games on their campus, every game is an away game for the team.

"When they arrive at Tiger Stadium, there's no dedicated locker room for the Wolverines to prepare for the game," he said. "This is clearly not their home field. It's surrounded with Tiger logos on the Bentonville High School campus, next to the Tiger Athletic Complex, in a stadium called Tiger Stadium."

Eric White, the board's vice president, asked Schwanhausser whether moving ahead with the stadium finance proposal would jeopardize any of the initiatives outlined in the district's 10-year strategic plan. It would not, Schwanhausser said.

She also said if the board approves the plan, she expects the district will attract sponsors willing to put up money for naming rights to the stadium.

"And so if we are able to get naming rights sponsors, I expect that this loan will be paid well in advance of the 15 years," Schwanhausser said.

Michelle McClaflin, a vice president with the architectural firm Hight Jackson Associates, presented renderings of the stadium project to the board. The seating capacity would be 3,280, she said.

NW News on 10/03/2017

Print Headline: Bentonville School Board hears plan to finance West stadium project

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