The Duncan Banner

April 14, 2013

Pressbox reconstruction comes with hefty price tag

Old plywood structure deemed unsafe

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — After years of discussion, Duncan Public Schools will be spending $564,340 to renovate and reconstruct the pressbox at Halliburton Stadium.

The Duncan Board of Education received two bids from prospective construction companies. Of the two, L. Wallace Construction came back with the lowest bid, which the school board approved Tuesday. WW Builders returned a bid for $695,472.

“Everyone is pretty well aware of that thing,” Athletic Director Burl White said. “It’s unbelievably unsafe. It’s crowded and narrow. It has one hallway. At one time, there was only one door in.”

DPS Superintendent Sherry Labyer said the pressbox has been an ongoing project for years because the structure has been deteriorating at a rapid rate. Labyer said the roof of the building leaked at one point. But once that was repaired, it was discovered that the west wall leaked, which is something that has been unable to be fixed without beginning a major renovation project.

Moisture has seeped into the floor from the leaking wall.

As such, the floor has required repairs in various areas. On Friday, the red carpeting on the floor was saturated from water seeping through the walls.

“It’s pretty bad,” Labyer said.

The project will be paid with building funds, which were made available through ad valorem taxes paid by homeowners in the Duncan School District. About five mills, of what is paid by homeowners, goes straight into the building fund.

She said the renovation and construction of the pressbox will begin in May, around the same time the bond construction at the Duncan High School begins. She said the two projects are unrelated and have two different funding sources.

“We will pay for this out of the building fund,” Labyer said. “We’ve saved our money for a couple of years.

“The bond funds are only being used at the Duncan High School. I want people to know we’re using building funds at the press box. Our current pressbox is not safe.

“Construction will start about the same time we break ground at the Duncan High School. These are two separate projects. We don’t want people to be confused.”

This project will be the first time the school district has worked with L. Wallace, which is based in Blanchard. Labyer said the company was highly recommended from people within the school district and from other entities that have used L. Wallace’s services.

The pressbox was initially part of the 2011 proposed bond issue, which failed to receive the super-majority vote needed to pass. In that bond issue, $1,825,476 was to be used toward renovations at Halliburton Stadium. Of that, about $100,000 was to be used toward the pressbox.

“That was when we were trying to get some money to put in to get some patching done,” Labyer said. “We would have put some district money to subsidize building the pressbox.

“Here we are are two years later. There’s no patching it.”

The bond issue approved in 2012 did not include any improvements to any of the athletic facilities, including Halliburton Stadium.

White said the pressbox was built with volunteer labor and was considered “old” around 1965. He said the pressbox is essentially made of plywood with no intentions of the structure lasting forever.

When the structure is under construction, the steel posts that hold the building in place will remain. This means the structure will be considered a renovation instead of new construction, which means the school district will not have to abide by every ADA law, including building an elevator, Labyer said.

Although most of the building will be torn down, Labyer said the two level design will remain. Both floors will have about 900 square feet of space. The first floor will consist of a filming room, a radio room, a room for home coaches and a storage area. The second floor will have a visiting radio room, a visiting coaches room and an all-purpose room.

Labyer said there are plans to put restrooms on both floors (although this may be scaled back to one restroom), and installing a heating and air conditioning unit. White said there is a gas heater in the structure, but it hasn’t been used since 1991, when it was deemed a fire hazard.

It’s because of the gas heater that a second door was added to the building. Labyer said one thing being done to make the pressbox safer in case of a fire is the stairs are being put on the exterior of the building, which will improve on the narrow staircase inside.

White said the pressbox is just one more step toward making Duncan a Mecca of sports in Oklahoma. He said the Athletics Department has been working toward improving the sports complexes in Duncan and have received help from numerous volunteers to make ideas happen.

Earlier this year, the non-profit organization City of Champions helped supply money to build new tennis courts and to get air conditioning in the gym. White said the pressbox is one of the last remaining issues with having sports complexes students and the community can be proud of.

“The first thing is safety, but it’s another added thing to our sports complexes,” White said. “We’re doing a lot of thing with a lot of donations and hard work. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the icing on the cake.

“Everything is really positive right now. It all kind of fits together. It gives everyone something to be proud of.”