SOLON– The Solon Community School District has been planning, developing and implementing the Outdoor Events Center over the past few years. We were delighted to be able to hold our first athletic events there during the spring track season last year. However, the project is far from complete and the Board has now turned its attention to making it fully functional for the fall of 2012. The purpose of this message is to share with the community the options the Solon Board of Education (BOE) is considering to make the Outdoor Events Center (OEC) a functional facility. In an effort to better inform the community, some of the data the BOE is using to guide their decision-making is included below.
Financing the OEC
The BOE has three options to finance the facility completion. Two of the options, debt-service levy (the option used to finance the high school) and the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy are both funded through local property taxes. The BOE is NOT considering using either of these funding sources for the OEC at this time.
The third financing option, and the option the BOE anticipates utilizing for the OEC, is from the SAVE fund, better known as the one-cent sales tax. The BOE must attempt to consider all future infrastructure needs of the district for the next seven to10 years; therefore it is critical for the BOE to balance finishing the OEC with necessary amenities while maintaining appropriate budget reserves for other potential district needs.
In addition, the district has made a concerted effort during the past several months to encourage monetary donations to the OEC with modest results (approximately $60,000 received). Consequently, the district is now faced with identifying existing district resources to complete the project. We will continue to explore donations as the project moves forward.
Outdoor Events Center Options
The BOE is working with Shive-Hattery, an architecture and engineering firm, as they plan the completion of the OEC. After reviewing attendance data from football games last year, and being informed by the administration that the goal at the OEC will be to have patrons sitting in bleachers, Shive-Hattery will be developing a bleacher design with approximately 1,775 seats on the home side. The visitor side already has 857 seats, which would result in a total seat capacity of 2,632 seats.
The BOE is committed to providing handicapped accessible bathrooms in the OEC. The bathroom facility would also include a concession area. The BOE is also exploring the feasibility of dedicated space for team rooms and a room for officials. This space may be finished or left unfinished.
Playing Surface: Consideration for installing synthetic turf
In recent years, several school districts in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor have made investments in renovating their football stadium including: Clear Creak Amana, CR Prairie, Linn Mar, and Cedar Rapids’ Kingston Stadium. In every renovation, each district chose to install a synthetic turf field instead of a grass field. The Solon BOE has analyzed the cost and potential usage of a grass field versus a synthetic turf field. The result of the data analysis is the long-term (10-12 years) cost to install and maintain a grass field is very comparable to the cost to install and maintain a synthetic turf field. However, installing a synthetic turf field significantly increases events and practices that could be held at the OEC. Additionally, synthetic turf field transforms a facility primarily used for football into a facility that can be utilized by band, soccer, football, physical education and the community.
The board would like to hear from you regarding your thoughts on the proposed direction of the OEC at this time. Please do not hesitate to contact your elected BOE members. They are:
Dave Asprey– email@example.com 
Dick Schwab– firstname.lastname@example.org 
Dean Martin– email@example.com 
Lianne Westcot– firstname.lastname@example.org 
Dan Coons– email@example.com