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February 18, 2020

1/4/2020 7:29:00 AM
Ad hoc committee to review dome project

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

The School District of Rhinelander Board of Education has a busy month of January ahead of it as it is expected to select finalists in the search for a new district superintendent and finalize the details of the new Hodag Sports Complex.

On Monday morning an ad hoc school district committee that has been coordinating with the contractor leading the project will review the design and other details.

The capital projects ad hoc committee will meet at 11 a.m. in the Professional Development Center in the district's administration center. The agenda for the meeting includes "dome site plan update, architectural review, design review and general discussion regarding the dome and outdoor activities facilities."

The district began examining the need for additional indoor practice space in early 2019 when Dr. Lee Swank and family pledged $500,000 toward the goal of making it easier for student-athletes to practice during inclement weather especially in the spring. After briefly considering a brick and mortar addition to the RHS building and a freestanding building to accomplish the goal, the board decided an air-supported dome would be the most cost effective solution to the problem.

As more donations were received, the district opted to not only build the dome, but an entire athletic complex. The Hodag Sports Complex will feature the dome, two softball fields, and a full-size artificial turf outdoor football/soccer practice field. Inside the dome will be another full-size artificial turf field that could host either football or soccer games.

The field inside the dome will also be marked to allow two regulation softball games to be played simultaneously. It will also feature four tennis courts on one end that can be used for other activities by changing the playing surface.

The complex will double the amount of parking for Mike Webster Stadium which will lead to a pedestrian mall that will lead to a new gate into the stadium. Pedestrians will also be able to enter an addition to the new concession/restroom building at the stadium which will be the main entrance into the dome.

In June, the school board voted to spend up to $5.7 million from the general fund to build the dome. In October, the board accepted a $1,890,881 dollar bid from Arizon Building Systems' bid of St. Louis to manufacture the dome and design the concrete grade beam that will hold it in place.

After reviewing the final project design, the committee is expected to forward it to the full board for approval at the Jan. 20 meeting.

According to the tentative project schedule, requests for bids will be sent out on or about Jan. 17, with bid openings scheduled for on or about Feb. 13.

The school board will consider the bids and award the contract at a special meeting on March 3.

The Rhinelander City Council is scheduled to approve a Conditional Use Permit and site plan for the complex at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for March 25, 2020, and the dome itself is expected to be ready for use in late August. The outdoor softball fields will not be available for use until the spring of 2021, due to the need to allow the sod to become firmly established.

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