HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Marshall University's Board of Governors has approved a $16.4 million contract for construction of an indoor athletic facility.
The contract was awarded Thursday to J&H Erectors of Portsmouth, Ohio. Marshall says construction is expected to begin within the next two months.
The facility will include a 120-yard turf field, a 300-meter track, a Hall of Fame, an academic center and a sports medicine research center.
A soccer stadium complex also is being built at the former site of the Veterans Memorial Field House in Huntington.
Marshall says its athletic department has raised $15 million in private funds and is using a surcharge on tickets to athletic events to raise an additional $10 million. The private-fund goal is $20 million.
Crews say they are about two-and-a-half weeks into the project and have been working on the environmental aspect up to this point. Now workers are prepping for the demolition work.
Rick Meckstroth with Atlantic Plant Services out of Illinois is overseeing the project. He tells WSAZ.com that there was quite a bit of asbestos inside the building and the old basketball floor had some mercury in it.
On Monday, they said they will be saving the facade of the memorial and will use it on the new building.
Meckstroth tells WSAZ.com that there is a lot of steel in the building and that will be the most difficult part to deconstruct.
They will be working on the roof for many weeks, and once it comes down, the project should move faster.
They hope to begin the demolition in the next two weeks and be finished about a month later.
"I have a lot of feeling for this building, just like a lot of people in this town," Meckstroth said. "This is going to be a great thing for the community, for the new stuff to come along.
Marshall University is going to use the property for a new soccer complex.
The City of Huntington Park Board will also build a memorial park to honor local veterans.
The commission approved resolutions Wednesday that Marshall needed to move forward with the projects.
One resolution allows Marshall to issue bonds to help pay for the projects. Another authorizes two of the projects and the third deals with changes to Marshall's master plan.
Marshall also plans to seek private donations to help pay for the projects. They include an indoor athletic facility, applied engineering complex and a multi-floor parking garage.
Marshall President Stephen Kopp says the university hopes to complete the bond process by the end of October.
The commission says it will vote on a resolution Wednesday authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds for the projects. It's considered an emergency because of financing deadlines.
The meeting is set for 4 p.m. at the commission's office in Charleston.
Thursday, the Board of Governors gave its approval to secure up to $54 million in bonds for the construction and renovation projects.
Marshall University President Dr. Kopp says this is an exiting time for the school "it shows that this is a very vibrant university".
Dr. Kopp says there are several projects that this bond money will be used for, a multiple-story parking garage, soccer stadium complex, indoor athletic complex, a high-tech instructional facility and renovation of the former Stone and Thomas building for a fine arts center.
The first ground to be broken will be on the parking garage which will be located next to the Joan C Edwards Playhouse along 5th Avenue.
The Veterans Memorial Field House property is also included in the construction projects. It will be the future home of the soccer stadium complex.
Wednesday night, members of the Greater Huntington parks and Recreation District approved the transfer of the field house property to the University.
As part of the agreement there will be a half acre park at the complex for public use that is dedicated and named for veterans.
The soccer stadium itself will also include “Veterans Memorial” in the name.
There is no timetable on when the Field House will be torn down. It will close at the end of February.
Today, the university ok'ed funding to build several major campus projects.
The highlight is a long awaited indoor athletic practice facility
Marshall Football player Tyson Gale and thundering herd soccer player Lindsey Kerns both agree a new indoor practice facility for all outdoor sports will make a huge difference.
“Not just for football, but for all Marshall athletic programs,” Gale said.
“We never have a real plan when it rains, we have to work around other practices,” Lindsey Kerns added.
Marshall’s Board of Governors gave the go ahead to fund - with state, private and up to fifty million bonded dollars - an indoor athletic sports complex, complete with a 300 meter woman's indoor competition track.
The $24 million complex will go where the current herd soccer field and football practice sites sit now.
“There's no question it will elevate all of our athletic programs to the next level,” MU Athletic Director Mike Hamrick tells WSAZ.com.
The Indoor practice facility will also house an athletic academic center - and a state of the art sports medicine research center Marshall President Stephen Kopp said would distinguish the university nationally.
Kopp said Marshall hopes to break ground on the new athletic indoor practice facility in maybe - as soon as a year and a half.
Also on the funding list: a vertical parking complex near the Joan C. Edwards playhouse - and 10-million dollars to convert the downtown Stone and Thomas building to a fine arts center.
“This is a historic day for Marshall University Athletics,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said. “We are excited about each of these new facilities and are looking forward to having them in place in the near future. This project will have an enormous impact on every one of our athletics teams and every student-athlete. This is only the first step in addressing our overall facility needs.
“I want to thank the Board of Governors and our president, Stephen J. Kopp, for their support and vision. Without them this project would not be possible.”
The project will be funded by bonds and private gifts, and is part of a larger bond issue that includes academic facilities on the Huntington campus.
The first phase of the project involves $5.4 million that will be used to demolish the Veterans Memorial Field House and construct a soccer stadium complex on that site and include a veteran’s memorial park.
The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District Board voted unanimously to turn the land over to Marshall Athletics on Wednesday night at no cost. The Field House had fallen into disrepair and was becoming a financial burden on the parks department.
“I want to thank the Park Board for its vision and support,” Hamrick said. “They have the foresight to see the tremendous impact that the new soccer facility will have on the entire region.”
Construction of an indoor practice facility with a full competition track, artificial playing surface and an athletics hall of fame at a cost of $14 million will then begin adjacent to Joan C. Edwards Stadium on the current site of Sam Hood Field. A $3.5 million academic support center and a $7.5 million Sports Medicine Translational Research Center will be included at this site. All told this project will provide Marshall student-athletes with state-of-the-art academic, athletic, training, and sports medicine facilities that are among the best in the nation.
The first phase of the project is expected to begin in February 2012.
The first hurdle has been cleared in the transferring of the Veterans Memorial Field House in Huntington from the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District to Marshall University.
Wednesday, the GHRPD voted unanimously to go ahead with a motion to transfer the property.
The Field House has been in disrepair for years, and the cost of fixing it is more than the GHRPD has to spare. GHRPD Director Kevin Brady said they budgeted $30,000 this year for the building. But with two months left in the fiscal year, they've already spent $75,000.
The building needs a new roof and many other fixes, which add up to nearly $2 million.
The building was built in 1950, and its age is beginning to show. Tiles are falling apart, water stains go as far as the eye can see and puddles fill the floor on rainy days.
"A crumbling facility is not a memorial to the veterans we would like," Park District member Kenneth Wolfe said after Wednesday's meeting. "A new stadium maintained by Marshall is a much more significant memorial than the grand old lady who has certainly served us well, but in my perspective, time has passed."
If the deal is approved, Marshall University is set to spend $5 million on the new soccer stadium that will be used for the school and for the community.
The GHRPD stated at Wednesday's meeting wording will be put into legal documents to ensure Marshall University -- or any other potential future owners -- would keep the words "veterans memorial" the largest on the building. Those words should be bigger than any logo or sponsor, GHRPD members said, because that's what the purpose of the building is.
Half an acre of the current lot will remain under the GHRPD's authority as a veterans memorial park.
Marshall University hopes to get construction underway by February 2012.
"Best we can hope for now, is to be the cheapest act in town. And that's how we attract some venues in here," said Brady.
Currently the parks and recreation district is putting an average of $68,000 a year to supplement the lost revenue for the field house.
The building is in bad need of a new roof.
“Part of the big cost is there is asbestos in the existing roof. We're looking at about $200,000 to do the asbestos abatement, another $740,000 to put a new roof on it,” said Brady.
Over the past ten years the parks and recreation district has put in more than $500,000 into the field house.
"If you think about what the Huntington Park and Recreation District could do with that money, as far as community improvement and taking care of our parks, maintaining what we have, updating and upgrading our existing parks and even probably building new parks, that money could be much better spent in other areas," said Brady.
The Huntington Parks and Recreation Board of Directors has asked Marshall to keep "Veterans Memorial" in the name.
The board has also asked for half an acre of property to develop as a neighborhood park.
Brady says Marshall plans to use the property as an indoor-outdoor soccer field.
The property could then be used as part of an athletic facilities upgrade that includes a new soccer complex.
The group says Veterans Memorial Field House continues to lose money, and badly needs costly repairs. The park board has had to transfer an average of $67,912 annually the past three years to maintain operations at the facility.
Park Board president Dr. Ken Wolfe says there are not enough revenue raising activities to keep the field house operating.
Wolfe says in the past ten years, the board has transferred more than a half million dollars from other park enterprises just to keep the utilities on.
Wolfe says repairing the leaking field house roof will cost close to one million dollars.
If the transfer is approved, the park board would consider building a new, well-maintained memorial for veterans. Commissioners also want a new neighborhood park that would be named Veterans Memorial Park.
Also, Marshall University would be responsible for the costs of the demolition of Veterans Memorial Field House. Sources tell WSAZ.com Marshall's current soccer field would be used as the site of a new indoor practice facility.
The park board will consider the transfer at its meeting April 27.
Turner says a timetable for moving Marshall's visual arts and design studios and classrooms into the six-story building hasn't been set.
The building was constructed in 1902 and originally had three stories. Hankins says it's been vacant since Stone & Thomas moved out about eight years ago.
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