Phoenix stadium tear-down begins



Demolition of the old Phoenix stadium next to Oberlin High School is underway.

Both bleachers and buildings at the Oberlin High School field will be completely gone by the week of Dec. 20, said Tim Rini of Greenspace Construction.

The former football field, tennis courts and southern part of the parking lot will be used for the footprint of Oberlin’s new elementary school, which will be home to preschool through fifth grade.

The Board of Education plans to spend about $17.76 million on the new facility.

It will include a much-debated expanded gym, which will add to the cost of the school.

A field house is not in the cards, following a price estimate of up to $3.5 million. Doubling the footprint of the state-funded gym will cost about $1 million.

That money and about $500,000 more for flooring upgrades and outdoor canopies was moved last Tuesday out of the district’s rainy day savings fund.

“I think it’s the right move,” school board member Barry Richard said of springing for the larger gym. “The 3,900 square feet’s too small, with what the state’s giving us. Doubling it makes a lot of sense.”

Superintendent David Hall said the larger gym will give students more space to run. It can also be used after school.

“We will use it. It will allow additional community use as well,” he said.

A new stadium is not in the works.

Board member Ken Stanley has said there are no plans to replace the stadium. Hall and others have left the question a little more nebulous, saying a new home for the Phoenix could be part of another phase of campus construction, but it would be at least six years down the road.

For the foreseeable future, varsity football games will continue to be played at Oberlin College, which this year charged the public schools $1,050 per game to use its field. Athletic Director John Carter has been negotiating a similar deal for next year.

Hall said ThenDesign Architecture has met several times in the past month with district staff to discuss how the new school’s construction will play out, including how parking will be handled.

That includes not just how to fit contractor, teacher and student vehicles during construction, but also making sure there are plenty of spots once the new school opens its doors.

For now, Phoenix fans have been cleared to park on both sides of the Greenspace construction fence through basketball season. That will change once construction starts in March.

More space could be freed up at the nearby Pleasant Street School, which is marked for demolition.

Abbey Ranieri of ThenDesign Architecture said a demolition package will be put together by the end of the year. It will include abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Both the school and the district maintenance building on the same property will be torn down. The vacated space could be used for parking or practice fields.