At a special Shelby Board of Education meeting on Feb. 22, officials indicated that in the coming weeks they planned to take action that would lead to securing $4 million in financing for the athletic facility. The facility would be built at the Shelby High School campus through an effort to replace the aging Skiles Field football venue near downtown Shelby.
The new athletic complex would be home to multiple Shelby sports teams and activities, including the football venue, baseball complex, plaza area for those attending games, locker room facilities and places to park.
Shelby schools already have secured high-quality sports bleachers for the venue through a 2020 donation by businessman Grant Milliron. He donated the bleachers from the former Mansfield Motor Speedway.
The board on Feb. 22 took no formal action on the Shelby sports complex but indicated that financial-related information would be put together in the coming weeks for formal presentation and a board vote on adoption of a resolution.
Shelby Schools Superintendent Tim Tarvin led the broad-ranging discussion that looked toward the future with the high school campus area.
“When we talk about the athletic facilities, we are talking about our athletic facilities on this campus, outdoor facilities,” he said in opening remarks. “Whether it’s football/soccer/track facility or whether it’s a baseball field, a softball field or it’s a tennis court. Whether it’s someday moving our bus garage out to this property.”
Tarvin described the vision as “all-encompassing.”
“Ideally when all is said and done, five years, three years from now, 10 years from now, when somebody is coming to a sporting event in Shelby, Ohio, they will come to this campus,” he said. “And all of our facilities will be at one site.”
Tarvin also spoke of the district in future years further developing the high school campus site, beyond sports, but doing so while keeping an eye on costs.
“Down the road if we continue to do well managing our money like we have for the last 10 years or so, there is nothing to say that we can’t come back at some point and say, ‘We’re going to finish up this. We’re going to build a bus garage. We’re going to put a roadway in from the Vo-Ag (vocational-agricultural) building out to State Street.’ Those types of things,” Tarvin said.
“We’re talking another $3 million to $4 million if you checked everything off your list that we could do out here to be a finished painting type deal,” he added. “We wouldn’t want to do all of those things to put ourselves in a financial bind. We want to do them when they are financially prudent.”
“That is one of the first things that needs to take place if we’re to play baseball on that field in the spring of ’23,” Tarvin said. “You’ve got to get this seeded, you have to get this sodded whether it’s infield and outfield or just outfield…Let’s assume we’re going to seed the entire field other than the dirt infield. That needs to get seeded this fall for it to take to be able to play on it in ’23.”
As for the entire sports venue in the current plan, Tarvin noted the discussions focusing on how it would be financed.
“Ideally, we said from the get-go, we would consider a budget for this project of $4 million,” he said. “We understand it could fluctuate $100,000 less or $50,000 more. But ideally, we want to stay at a $4 million budget. We don’t want to talk ourselves into let’s say it’s $4 million and all of a sudden we are at $4.9 (million.)”
Tarvin also is looking at the possibility of outside funding assistance.
“We have plans to talk to some individuals and some companies in the immediate area with regard to whether or not they would be willing to do private donations or company donations, sponsor part of the facility,” he said. “We don’t want to hang our hats simply on that because we don’t know the likelihood of that taking place.”
Officials emphasized that the $4 million equates to interest savings related to the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade school building being built behind Shelby Middle School off Smiley Avenue.
“We saved $4 million in interest on this project over here (new building),” said David Conley, who is providing financial expertise to the Shelby district. “Your choice is to just keep that in the general fund as it accumulates from the tax revenue or go ahead and use it for another purpose.”
“It’s $4 million that you all have that’s leftover, if you will, from money you had budgeted but didn’t spend,” added Conley, president of Rockmill Financial Consulting based out of the Columbus suburb of Westerville.
Early during the meeting, Shelby School Board President Lorie White asked what the district can afford for its new athletic facility.
Later in discussions, Conley told the school board: “My goal is to make sure whatever you do, you have financing that you can repay without concerns, without worrying about the future.”
“Can you borrow $5 million?” Conley asked. “Yes you can, but it creates a higher risk that our current revenues aren’t going to be enough to pay it back.”
In her concluding remarks, School Board President White noted the significance of the athletic project.
“This is a big deal,” she said. “Half of our community doesn’t want this, nearly half."
“We are not spending any more money than we had already committed to spend for our (new) school,” White said.
She said she did not want to say Shelby schools are getting the sports venue for free “but it was money that we already thought we were going to be spending” before the lower-than-expected interest rates for the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school.
“It is exciting to think that we can get all of this plus the building that we’re still getting for the same amount of money,” White said. “It’s very cool. It’s exciting for our kids.”
School Board member Scott Rose emphasized that the new sports facility is about more than athletics. Special band performances also are envisioned for the site, for example.
“It’s not just a football stadium,” Rose said. “It’s a good thing for everybody, and I think for our band kids. How exciting would it be to have thousands of people out there for a band contest.”
Check the Shelby Daily Globe for updates on the athletic project and school board action.