Bedford Football Stadium is getting upgrades

Bedford Public Schools is planning major upgrades to Bedford Community Stadium in two phases over the next 16 months.

The first phase is scheduled to begin this summer, according to a news release from the school district.

Currently, the district operates and maintains two stadiums: Bedford Community Stadium and Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium adjacent to Indian Creek.

With the two stadiums currently configured, there are cost and safety concerns that the district wanted to address. Soccer/lacrosse stadium challenges include the lack of functioning stadium lighting that limits playtime during available daylight hours, the bleachers that require frequent and ongoing repair/maintenance, and the lack of a nearby facility where students and Spectators can seek shelter from inclement weather during events.

A solution to many of these issues would be to move all events out of that facility and hold them all at Bedford Community Stadium instead. Students and spectators would enjoy the larger residential and visitor stands with a safer design, improved access/parking facilities, easy access to the school buildings for safer weather protection and more visibility within the school community. Relocating football and lacrosse events would eliminate the need for costly upgrades and ongoing maintenance at their current location.

Adding the football and lacrosse programs to the Bedford Community Stadium schedule would require upgrades to accommodate the additional usage and lighting requirements specific to the new groups that would use it.

The current natural grass field could not withstand the additional wear and tear and would require the adoption of a full replacement plan. The district currently spends an average of $35,000 each year on irrigation, natural grass maintenance/repair and mowing services for Bedford Community Stadium alone. A new irrigation well is needed to maintain the current lawn.

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The current stadium lighting system is now 25 years old. The existing 96-piston metal halide system is obsolete and expensive to operate, maintain and replace. The district is currently working on a semi-annual cycle to replace burned out lightbulbs at an average cost of $7,500 per cycle. Additionally, due to the twisting of the existing wooden poles, there is an additional cost of realigning existing batten lights to ensure the correct light levels. The current lighting system averages about 30 footcandles across the court, with fewer in the end zone area. This is not enough to meet the 50 footcandle minimum required by high school track and field to play lacrosse at night.

After weighing the pros and cons of each location and the costs involved, it was recommended that Bedford Community Stadium be upgraded as the central location for all events taking place at the two current locations.

To accommodate the increased use of Bedford Community Stadium, the Board of Education recently approved two contracts at its April and May board meetings.

The first contract was awarded to the Maumee Bay Turf Center for the purchase and installation of new field turf. The project includes the installation of an SSI football/soccer goal system, end zone poles, chains, down markers and corner kick flags specifically designed for use with artificial turf. Sweeping and care units as well as training are included in the costs. The high jump area will be relocated and included in this project. Funding for this $750,000 purchase comes from the Capital Maintenance Fund and is offset annually by the elimination of ongoing maintenance costs and the need to make major investments in aging equipment at both facilities.

The second contract dealt with the requirements to improve the lighting. Qualite Sports Lighting of Hillsdale, MI was awarded a contract to install a Q-LED GameChanger Gen. 3 lighting system on new galvanized poles for $264,646.00. The system offers average field coverage of 52 foot candles (including end zones) and is backed by a full 25 year warranty. All of the funds needed to purchase and install this stadium lighting project came from the District’s energy efficiency rebate reviews from Consumers Energy and Michigan Gas.

The district also benefits from operational savings from the new lighting system. The LED system consumes 88.4 KW less than the current metal halide lighting system. The district estimates savings of more than $245,000 over the 25-year life of the Qualite installation, the reduction in energy consumption and the elimination of maintenance costs associated with the current lighting.

Both the field turf and the lighting systems will be installed in the summer of 2022. This will make Bedford Community Stadium operational for all student sporting events for the 2022-2023 school year as the first phase of the stadium modernization.

Donations and sponsorship deals will fund a second phase, planned for summer 2023, to make additional improvements to Bedford Community Stadium. The lack of toilet facilities, a training room with privacy for athlete injury assessment and a dedicated area for use by referees will be addressed. The need to repair/replace damaged concrete and walls was also considered at this stage of the project.

An architectural office is commissioned to complete the design work and plans. (All building plans must be approved by the state before construction can begin.) This phase of the project includes:

● Construction of a new main entrance facility to house concessions, ticket booths, engineering and storage where the stadium’s east wall currently stands.

● Conversion of the current home/visitors stands at the east end of the stadium to toilets.

● Conversion of the current concession status in the Westend into a training room/referee room. The cost of these projects, including site works and fees, is estimated at $1,182,554.

Funding for the second phase of the stadium modernization will come through a collaboration between Bedford Public Schools, local business partnerships, community donations and community organizations. Bedford Public Schools has received three funding commitments totaling $1,352,000.00. These agreements require Bedford Public Schools to fund the projects upfront. However, the district will recover all of its upfront funding over the next ten years in annual payments from three different entities:

The John C. Bates Foundation/Heidtman Steel Products, Inc. will make a total donation of $500,000. Their generosity was not dependent on naming rights as they would like the stadium to remain known as Bedford Community Stadium. The Bates family, owners of local Heidtman Steel Products, have long been supporters of BPS. The family consists of current and former Bedford residents, business owners, graduates and with a new generation of family members currently visiting the district they just wanted to ensure these modernizations could be completed.

Grogan’s Towne Chrysler has pledged an additional 10 years as a naming sponsor for a total investment of $360,000. We look forward to celebrating many football, soccer, lacrosse and track and field victories at Grogan’s Towne Field. Grogan’s Towne Chrysler was one of the original sponsors for the construction of Community Stadium and their continued support is critical to the success of the project.

Forest View is a new naming sponsor with a 10-year investment of $360,000. Forest View has been a strong supporter of BPS for years and now, with this new agreement, families can enjoy a new type of experience at Community Stadium.

The Alumni Association and Mule Muscle have been raising funds to make stadium toilet facilities a reality for many years. The Alumni Association is contributing $82,000 and Mule Muscle is adding another $50,000. Without the continued support and efforts of the individuals who make up these important groups, Bedford Public Schools would not be in the position we are in today.

dr Carl Shultz, Superintendent of Bedford Public Schools, is excited to see how this project unfolds with community support.

“Bedford Public Schools are extremely grateful for the generosity of these partners in making this phase possible,” Shultz said in a statement to Stadium Construction. Their efforts, preserved and commemorated along the east wall of the stadium, will be reinstalled in the new building.

“I hope we can build on this positive momentum and I would welcome a discussion on future collaborations on projects in other areas. Passionate supporters of our programs have the ability to have a tremendous impact on our students, schools and community for many years to come.”

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