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Fees proposed for Wildcat stadium

The new Wildcat Memorial Stadium has been a highlight of the community since it opened last September.

Now, Oak Harbor school officials are looking at ways to pay for operating the modern stadium that features covered bleachers, an artificial field surface and a running surface that will allow the track and field team to host meets for the first time in years.

With the fancy facility comes more use and more costs associated with its use. School officials estimate it will cost approximately $58,000 annually to operate the stadium. In addition, they want to save $100,000 for eventual replacement of the field’s surface, which is expected to take place in 15 years.

To help pay for all that, the school district is considering a fee schedule for community groups, as well as asking the ASB and the Booster Club for help paying for the increased costs. Those groups are seeing big increases in revenue through ticket sales and concessions.

“I’m trying to make this as much a cost-neutral stadium that we can,” Superintendent Rick Schulte said during Monday’s school board meeting.

School leaders presented a draft of a fee schedule that community groups would have to pay to use the facility. The fees range from $100 for youth soccer practice to $735 for a post-season football game.

Athletic Director Nicki Luper said the proposed fees are based on utility and employee costs associated with operating the stadium and an average of the field fees other schools in the WesCo conference charge.

Luper said community athletic groups were surprised to see the high cost of lighting. She will research the electrical usage at the stadium to see if the figure is accurate. For example, field lights for a two-and-a-half hour youth football game would cost $130 as things now stand.

When the stadium opened last fall, the school saw much larger crowds at football games than in the past. While it increased ticket and food sales, it also meant more trash and more custodians to pick it up. It took four to five custodians to clean up after football games and they filled two large dumpsters with trash.

Luper said she just wants to find a happy medium in setting rates for use of the stadium.

The school board unanimously approved a first reading for the fee schedule during its Monday meeting.

Luper said she hopes the board will finalize approval of the fee schedule next month so it will be ready for some major events in the coming months, including the Whidbey Island Marathon and the state 4A junior varsity track meet.

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