SANDPOINT — With a final design now approved by council members, fundraising for the Memorial Field grandstands is set to begin in earnest.
A project that’s been in the works since the beginning of 2011, the effort to restore Memorial Field stadium received another public endorsement last Wednesday with the authorization of a final design. After a process of four public meetings, popular support fell behind a design with a capacity of between 1,200 and 1,500 — an up to 67-percent increase.
“(The public process) pretty much boiled down to a structure that looks very similar to what we currently enjoy,” Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff said.
According to Woodruff, council approval will indicate official support for the design process. That will allow volunteer group the Friends of Memorial Field to kick fundraising efforts into high gear, including a plan spearheaded by Councilwoman Carrie Logan to generate outside funds.
“To do that, we need a council-approved working model,” Woodruff said.
Fortunately, the model put together by Friends of Memorial Field members is ready to go. Thorough public involvement resulted in a final design that makes some tweaks to the existing grandstands. Most prominently, the new stands are projected to hold a lot more people, although final seating numbers will likely depend on the amount of money raised, Woodruff said.
Apart from improved capacity, the new model features ADA-compliant ramps and reduces the number of pillars needed to support the roof — a feature that limits viewing obstructions for seated individuals. The design also moves press boxes — a stadium feature the public overwhelming supported for preservation — behind the public seating to better improve the viewing angles.
“If you’ve ever seen a game up there (in the press boxes), you know it’s pretty spectacular,” Woodruff said.
Time is running short for the existing Memorial Field stands, which were originally constructed in 1946.
A 2012 structural engineering report determined the structure had a remaining lifespan of about five years based on its failure to meet structural or safety code requirements. Furthermore, the stands do not comply with either city building codes or Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Friends of Memorial Field members already succeeded in raising money to replace the field’s lighting. Work is under way to raise $1.2 million for the grandstand reconstruction project.