A rendering of the planned Whippet athletic facility that is to be built on the campus of Shelby High School.

SHELBY — Though the Shelby Whippets athletic facility isn’t expected to open until 2023, it already has scored its first win.

Shelby Schools Superintendent Tim Tarvin reports that a transaction to secure financing for the facility took place April 15.

“It went very well,” he said in his update April 19 to the Shelby Board of Education. “We have just a little over $4 million in certificates of participation to be sold.”

Tarvin credited multiple people with making the financing effort successful, including David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial Consulting, and officials with Bricker & Eckler law firm and PNC bank.

“We really pushed this through, quickly trying to capture interest rates,” Tarvin said. “And sure enough, we ended up with an interest rate of 2.728.”

“In comparison to two years ago when we did the financing funding for the PK-8 building (new pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school ), we thought we struck gold with the 2.98 percentage,” he said. “It saved us $4 million that we now are applying to the Whippet athletic complex.”

Tarvin estimated that, initially, about $320,000 worth of securities did not sell, but PNC bought them and they will go through PNC’s investment brokerage to sell those remaining securities, he said.

“All in all, a good morning,” Tarvin added. “It allows us to move forward. We’re very excited about it.”

Officials have emphasized that the athletic facility’s $4 million budget equates to interest savings related to the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade school building project being built behind Shelby Middle School off Smiley Avenue.

Officials also emphasize that no new money is involved for the sports complex that’s going to be at the Shelby High School campus. When it is complete, it is to include items such as a new football/soccer venue, baseball and softball fields and refurbished tennis courts and track. 

At the April 19 meeting, school board member Carl Ridenour highlighted additional issues about the sports facility.

“When the track was laid out in the 1970s by coach Bill Varble, the intent was always to have the football field inside of the track,” Ridenour said. “I think there is a lot of angst in the community that ‘Why would we ever move it there?’ Well, it was always intended to be there.”

Ridenour also addressed the issue of turfing the infield of the baseball field. “There has been a lot of talk in the community and in some social media circles about why it would be a great idea to turf the infield at the baseball field,” he said.

“When I asked the question — ‘How many games could we still play?’ — no one knows,” Ridenour said.

He pointed to a game earlier in April.

“Madison has turf on their pitcher’s mound and home plate, and the game was played at Shelby because there was too much water on their field to play,” Ridenour told the school board. “To me, it’s not worth almost $300,000 to turf the infield of the baseball field. We’ll never make that back, and it won’t benefit enough of our students.”

“What we’re doing in the stadium will benefit all of our football, track, soccer and band kids, especially, and there are way more of them than there ever are baseball players in a 10-year period,” Ridenour said. “To turf the infield is a nice to have, not a need to have. I think we made the right decision there.”

Also at the April 19 meeting, officials also provided an update on initial work on the sports complex. Officials reported at the time that the sports bleacher project was nearly complete at the high school track facility.

High-quality sports bleachers were donated to the athletic project by businessman Grant Milliron. They are from the former Mansfield Motor Speedway. Installation in Shelby began this past winter.

At the school board meeting, the board also approved an agreement with Garmann Miller & Associates for the Shelby schools football stadium project. The board also approved an agreement with Southern Bleacher Company for the Shelby High School press box, football/soccer stadium visitor bleachers and baseball complex bleachers.

Check the Shelby Daily Globe for updates on the Whippet athletic facility.

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