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December 12, 2019

Jamie Taylor/River NewsJohn Kneer, president of Rettler Corporation, points out a detail in the draft final site plan for the Hodag Sports Complex Tuesday during a presentation to the School District of Rhinelander capital projects committee.
Jamie Taylor/River News


John Kneer, president of Rettler Corporation, points out a detail in the draft final site plan for the Hodag Sports Complex Tuesday during a presentation to the School District of Rhinelander capital projects committee.
11/30/2019 7:30:00 AM
School district will seek city approval of Hodag Sports Complex site plan Dec. 9

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter


The design of the Hodag Sports Complex, to include an air-supported dome, is entering the final stages. Members of the School District of Rhinelander administration, the district's capital projects ad hoc committee and the design team from Rettler Corporation, the firm designing and managing the massive construction project, spent more than two hours Tuesday morning reviewing the site plan and delving deep into the details.

The site plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the city of Rhinelander planning commission Dec. 3, and discussed by the full City Council Dec. 9, so time is ticking away on making changes to the design of the fields, dome and the buildings that will make up the complex.

The real deadline is Jan. 10 when the Board of Education will vote on the final plan, locking everything in so that bids for the construction of the athletic complex can be sent out. The bids will be opened Feb. 13, 2020, with board acceptance expected in March. The groundbreaking is set for March 25, 2020.

The dome will be completed and operational by the fall of 2020 while the softball fields are expected to be ready for play in the spring of 2021, according to the district's schedule.

In June, the school board voted to authorize up to $5.7 million from the general fund to be earmarked for the dome.

By the end of August, the Rhinelander Schools Foundation had raised a total of $1.65 million in private donations, some earmarked for the dome and some for the athletic complex as a whole. There are also some funds raised by the RHS softball and the girls softball association that are going directly to the softball field in the complex.

Rettler president John Kneer attended the meeting in person while key members of the design team from his firm and Arizon Building Systems, which is manufacturing the dome, took part via conference call. The group also viewed the latest renderings of the project, based on feedback from the ad hoc committee, including a detailed look at how the dome will connect to the existing concession stand building at Mike Webster Stadium through an addition to the building..

The biggest change to the master plan for the entire project was the elimination of the junior varsity baseball field, which will be built in front of the high school next to the tennis courts. The area on the west side of the complex will be practice area in warmer months and will be used for the storage of snow cleared from the parking lot behind the high school and around the dome during the winter.

"We're working to keep this open practice space, football or soccer practice," Kneer said Tuesday. "It can accommodate either sport."

Kneer said one-and-a-half grass fields could fit in the area.

The rest of the design was similar to the initial plans outlined in late July.

The expanded parking for the complex will be next to James Williams Middle School. From there, a walkway will lead patrons to a central plaza next to the concession stand where they can enter the stadium or the dome.

A new, two-window ticket box with a gate on either side will be built running off the addition, allowing for the sale of tickets to adults for sporting events in the stadium. Entry to the dome would be through the addition in a long vestibule that would open into a large gathering area. This area would allow access to the locker rooms in the existing building as well as the dome office. The main public airlock connections into the dome will also be in this area. One will be through a turnstile while the other will be a more traditional door.

The connection from the addition to the dome, rather than being a fabric, will be a metal panel structure that will match the building "and give a very uniform look."

"That will be hard structure rather than fabric," Kneer explained, noting that a three-hour fire wall separates the two buildings.

There will be three entry points to the dome, one on the opposite end nearest the high school, and the other on the south side. The one closest to RHS would allow physical education teachers to bring classes in during inclement weather. The southern entrance is a vehicle airlock for bringing in sport specific items that can't be left in the dome. This material will be kept in a 2,000 square foot storage building next to this entry point and brought into the dome on trailers.

Golf carts would then pull the trailers where they are needed once inside the dome.

This area will also be where the electrical and natural gas hub, along with an electrical and mechanical room, is located. The inflation units for the dome would be located in the same area, along with machinery for HVAC, and a backup generator.

The backup generator is key to the dome.

"That will keep the air handling units and inflation units functioning during power outages," Kneer said, adding that the generator will also be able to provide power to the main connection/concession building during these times.

Drainage away from the dome and outdoor practice field, as well as the softball fields, will be handled by a network of underground piping.

"On the south practice field, there is going to be a network of surface drains and under drainage to collect water," Kneer said. "There is going to be a lot of runoff. The dome itself is going to have a slot drain all the way around it. Hopefully we can catch most of the water as it sheets off."

It is hoped that by sloping the runoff from the dome into the underground drainage system, the water won't flood the walkway around the building next to this slot drain.

"For melting and runoff from the rain, all of it is going to get into that slot drain," Rettler said.

There will be a system under the playing field in the dome to pump water from underneath it during rain events.

Getting everything level is going to be quite the undertaking, especially when taking into account known groundwater sources, it was explained.

"There is significant grade drop from the existing concession/restroom building to the west side (of where the dome will be erected)," Kneer said. "And we're putting in a 500-plus-foot level projection out into the site, that does generate quite a bit of fill and quite a bit of grade transition here. So we've comfortably worked out those grade transitions to be 6:1, they do get a little tighter on the north side, 4:1 slopes as we get down to grade on the farther west side of the building. And we do slope down on the far west side, gently. It's not a sheer drop- off."

The total drop in elevation from the east side to west on the site is 8 feet.

To get the entire site level will take 25,000 yards of imported fill, Kneer said.

Kneer also noted that detailed preliminary plans have been reviewed by the city inspection and fire departments to make sure their concerns for the entire complex were addressed.

This includes having a paved drive that would allow the Rhinelander Fire Department to get a fire engine almost all the way around the dome.

"We have these little flare outs (at the corners) to allow the large ladder truck or other fire protection or emergency response vehicles and also for snow removal," Kneer said.

He also noted a code review showed there is no need to install a sprinkler system in either the dome or the central connection building.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernewsonline.com.



Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Article comment by: Charlotte Schneider

With a project of this size shoudn't the tax payers of the school district have a vote? We have to vote on referenda periodically to keep the schools funded, why not a vote on this?



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