New Berlin — Although consolidating high school sports facilities to save money might seem like a good idea, it wouldn't work in New Berlin, a study concludes.
At the request of the New Berlin schools, Milwaukee-based KPH Construction looked into sharing facilities for baseball, football, soccer, softball, tennis, track and swimming. It looked at one class A varsity field or pool for both high schools and sufficient practice space elsewhere.
The study concluded that consolidation would not be logistically feasible for any of the seven sports except swimming.
The recommendation for swimming was to upgrade the Eisenhower Middle/High School pool so that all Eisenhower and New Berlin West swimming teams could use it for meets. It also recommended some upgrades to the West pool so that all the teams could use it for practices.
Whether to fix the Eisenhower pool has become a controversial topic in the district with pool supporters pushing hard for a new or repaired pool and the School Board backing off because of the high cost and other facilities needs.
Roger Dickson, chief finance and operations officer, announced the study results at Monday's School Board meeting.
The main thing standing in the way of sports fields consolidation is that so many teams need playing time that there would not be enough time to schedule them all in, the study concludes.
The company even explored using enhanced city facilities for athletics but the result was the same — that separate was more feasible logistically. The city needs space for park and recreation sports, adult leagues and youth sports.
"The joint school district/city finding is that shared athletic fields would lack the logistic feasibility to meet the needs of both high schools and the city," the report says.
And the school district finding is that it would cost less to update and operate separate class A varsity fields at each high school than it would to construct and operate one combined class A varsity field at either high school, the report says. The cost difference is estimated at more than $1 million or about 22 percent, the report says.
The main reason is that expensive synthetic turf would be needed on a combined field to stand up to the constant pounding of as many as six teams per sport, the study says.
To install synthetic turf in the Eisenhower stadium would cost an estimated $714,145, the report says.
Football is an example of the difficult logistics in sharing one stadium. That field would need capacity for six teams to play home games and hold pregame home field practices, the report says. Only one New Berlin high school could be at home at one time and one team would get one less practice, the report says.
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