October 8, 2007

State College Area School District
Office of Physical Plant
Ed Poprik, Director

To: Board of School Directors

From: Ed Poprik

RE: Planning for a 2008 Memorial Field Project

Date: October 8, 2007

Recommend that the Board of School Directors choose a schematic design for the 2008 Memorial Field Bleacher project. This direction is required to complete schematic design and pursue approvals with State College Borough.


As described in previous memos, structural engineers from L. Robert Kimball have advised the district that the West Bleachers at Memorial Field and the associated retaining wall require replacement during the summer of 2008. While the bleachers themselves continue to age and experience problematic issues associated with corrosion, the urgency of this replacement is driven by the condition of the Fraser Street retaining wall.

Because of the proximity to Fraser Street, a 4-foot easement was granted into the right-of-way in 1937 for construction of the current bleacher assembly and retaining wall.

Most recently these issues were reviewed with the Board of School Directors as well as State College Borough Council on August 13, 2007. Subsequent to these discussions, a meeting was held with representatives of St. Andrews Episcopal Church (the facility most significantly impacted by issues associated with this project). The church is expected to provide written feedback for the October 8 Board meeting.

Key Issues

If the bleachers and wall are replaced within their current footprint, seating capacity will be lost due to requirements of handicapped accessibility and other code issues. In order to maintain or increase capacity, the district would likely need to pursue encroachment into Fraser Street.

Because these are bleacher seats, there is some discrepancy in recording the seating capacity. In their early work, Kimball identified the capacity of the West grandstand at approximately 1725 seats. This number was derived by dividing the feet of bleacher seats by a factor attributed to the space required per person. Subsequent to this work, the district painted markings on the bleacher boards to identify “seats.” These markings yielded 1815 seats. (This allowed about 1 inch less per “seat.”) This issue is pertinent in that it is important not to mix criteria when evaluating the various options. In order to maintain consistency across comparisons, Kimball’s calculated capacities will be used.

Additional refinement to the options presented on August 13, 2007 has been performed. Based on this work the probable scenarios have emerged:

A) Work within current footprint – Lose about 150 seats

B) Seek a 2’ reduction in Fraser St. – Maintain equal seating

C) Seek a 4’ reduction in Fraser St. – Add about 150 seats

Fraser Street currently operates as a one-way street with legal parking on the West side of the street. Periodic drops offs and parking can be accommodated on the East side due to an abnormally wide cart-way on the current street. If a 4-foot reduction were to be implemented, the street would be reduced from 29-feet to 25-feet. A traffic lane can be accommodated in 12-feet, while a parking lane requires 6.5-feet. Consequently, with this reduction, Fraser Street could serve as a one-way street with parking on both sides, or as a two-way street.


Costs incurred for this project will be driven by the replacement of the retaining wall, which will remain fairly constant for either of the options. While costs for the additional seating in options B and C will be realized, they will be incrementally small and not necessarily a driving factor in the decision making process. A detailed estimate has not been completed for this project. However, based on previous studies and current assumptions, this project could be expected to cost around $2 million.

As described in previous memos, the Physical Plant Five-Year Capital Budget first identified this as a potential project in 2004. The corresponding budget estimate was based on the bleacher replacement alone, as the issues with the retaining wall had not yet been identified. The attached copy of this plan identifies that cost at $382,000.00.

Because of the solution chosen for the 2007 East bleacher project, approximately $250,000 is left from the $424,000 allocated. A total of $1,756,560 is projected for the 2009 Physical Plant Capital Operating budget.

While the issue of funding is not the priority decision for this meeting, three potential funding strategies are offered for consideration during budget deliberations.

A) Fund completely through the Physical Plant Capital Operating budget. This would require use of the $250,000 surplus from the 2008 project as well as all of the 2009 funds, see attached.

B) Fund completely through bond proceeds and reallocate the $250,000 surplus from 2008 and the $382,000 projected for 2009 in the Physical Plant Capital Operating budget.

C) Use $632,000 from the Physical Plant Capital Operating budget and augment this with approximately $1,368,000 in bond proceeds.


The current capacity, as well as the long-term capacity of Memorial Field, plays into any choices made at this juncture. Generally Varsity football games “sell-out” several times a year indicating the increased capacity could have been used at those events. (This recently happened at the 9/28/07 game). If a wholesale replacement of the East side bleachers is undertaken, it is likely the capacity will be lost there due the same accessibility and code issues faced in this project. However, there may be some opportunities for additional seating near the end zones in future projects.

Option A, which maintains the current footprint, would likely be the most straightforward approval for outside agencies and could proceed the most expeditiously.

Option C, which increases seating, would allow more flexibility in the future. This is driven by a very limited site, which may be called upon to house additional amenities in the future. If locations for additional seating were needed, this would limit other uses for these areas.

Option B, which maintains the current seating capacity could be considered a comprise solution.