That press pass will seem a whole lot shinier now


Courtesy of Wayne State College

A projection of what the reconstruction of the football stadium press box will look like.

Alex Eller, Staff Writer

After more than 40 years of service to Wayne State College, plans have been made for the reconstruction of the football stadiums press box.The structure, which has stood on the campus since the 1960s, is becoming more of a safety issue as the years pass due to its limited size and structural issues.

“We are not ADA compliant, meaning we are not handicap accessible,” said Mike Powicki, Wayne State College Athletic Director. “Anybody, whether you’re a coach, staff or a student member, who has been in it knows it’s completely undersized and has a terrible work space.”

The construction will include building an elevator tower on the back of the stadium. The elevator will go up the northwest side of the stadium and will open up room for a new 5,220-square-foot press box. This will be the first time ever that the press box will be accessible to people in wheel chairs.

“You’re still going to have the home radio booths, visiting radio booths and visiting coaches’ booths. There will just be a lot more space than what we have now,” Mike Grosz, Sports Information director, said.

One of the new features added to the press box will be the addition of corporate suites that will be added on top of the new press box.

“The big difference that you will see is, any stadium that you see today will have corporate suites in their press box, so that will be one of the new features added to Wayne State’s,” Grosz said.

Current estimates by the Press Box Reconstruction Committee have the total cost of the project coming in at around $1.7 million.

$1 million has already been raised by the press box committee, which leaves the school to pay for the $700,000 needed to pay for the rest of the project. How much the project will really cost is still up in the air, as the school and board are too early in the process to say for sure if this initial price tag will stand.

“The current price tag for the press box construction is $1,700,000,” Powicki said. “Once you go out to bid you never know how much a project may cost, but initially $1.7 million is our plan.”

Though no physical preparations have been made on the box yet, there have been many hours put into the planning of the press box by a dedicated Wildcat Press Box Replacement Fund Team and Mike Grosz. One of these jobs included going around and looking at other colleges’ press boxes in order for Wayne State to build the most up-to-date structure possible.

“We went and toured Augustana’s and Sioux Falls, who built new stadiums in the last three to five years,” Grosz said. “We had tape measures and I myself took 75 to 100 pictures of some of the things they had that we liked, so that we could incorporate them into ours.”

The process of getting the press box to the point where construction is foreseeable has been a long winding road for the Wayne State Foundation and Powicki.

Many hoops have been jumped through to get the project to the stage it’s at today. One of the first things that had to be done was the project needed to be on the 10-year master plan of the college.

“First the project needs to be on the 10-year master plan for Wayne State College, which the press box was,” Powicki said.

The next big step for the foundation was to raise funds of $1 million, which was the amount the group needed for the construction to even get off the ground.

“We started this process a year ago, first we had to go out and raise the money for the press box to get the OK to go ahead with process of the construction,” Powicki said.

Right now the group is in the process of reviewing bids from architects in order to finalize the design of what the project will encompass and look like. After this, they plan on hiring a contractor to start the process of the reconstruction.

“We are in the phase of the project in which we are reviewing bids from architects to help us finalize the design and development of the project before going out to bid for the general contractor,” Powicki said.

As the project sits now, there is no timeline for when the construction will be done or when it will start. This is largely due to planning that has to be done around next year’s football season.

“The construction time line is to be determined,” Powicki said. “We can say what we want done, but it’s up to the general contractor to when they think they can get it done.”

As football season draws near to the end at Wayne State College, plans to at least start on the basics of the project loom in the making. Setting the foundation up for the major reconstruction that could take place as soon as spring of 2018.

“Ideally what we would like to see here at Wayne State is that this spring and summer we can start doing some of the basic construction work,” Powicki said. “By that I mean putting in the footings and the steel on the backside of the stadium to frame up the elevator tower and get some of the heavy lifting work done during the spring and summer of 2017.”

Whether or not the construction process takes off as soon as people want it to, one thing that is for sure is that the rumors the press box construction has been delayed or that it has been held back due to the multiple other construction projects on the campus are not true.

“All those other projects are bid out to other contractors doing other work who aren’t necessarily affiliated with each others’ project,” Powicki said. “The only slight delay that we had was us going out and getting the commitments we needed to raise the money, but that’s all in place now.”

With so much still unknown about the current timeline of the new press box one thing that is for certain, is that when the project is finally finished it will be a state of the art facility for students and athletes alike.

“When you think of a football press box you think of a direct benefit to your football team and staff, but we look at the scope of it being much broader than that,” Powicki said. “It helps our football coaches and recruiting, but it’s also workspace for our media, our sports information staff, our game information staff, and students in mass communications doing radio and television broadcast for the game.”