Yakima school board considers options for Zaepfel Stadium

Yakima school board considers options for Zaepfel Stadium
YAKIMA, Wash. -- No one in Yakima will deny that Zaepfel Stadium either needs to be blown up or completely renovated. But paying for it is another thing. The school district held a public forum Thursday evening to present their plans.

For years, athletes in Yakima have been playing on a track and field in desperate need of repair.

For parents like Kristen, whose sophomore son plays both football and track, the biggest fear is someone will get injured.

"The biggest concern is safety, not just for my son cause when I step on the football field they're like all our kids," said Kristen Chard. "I'm like the team mom, and it's not just one boy I'm about concerned our athletes, it's the 30 plus."

The school board agrees. The first phase of the project will focus on student safety renovations, which include a new synthetic turf, track, and lights. The price tag for phase one is between $3 million and $6 million.

The board is currently considering three options to pay for it. The first option is a federal subsidized loan with a low interest rate that the board is hoping to qualify for. The second option is a direct bank loan through private placement. The third option is a public offering, meaning brokerage firms can compete to buy bonds.

As a track coach and teacher, Phil English stresses the importance of a new stadium.

"I don't make a separation between those two aspects of education, I see them as co-curricular, the athletics and the academic side of it," said English.

After the first phase is complete, other potential renovations include new restrooms, a first-aid room, a room for referees, more concession stands and a new press box and ticket booth.

The first phase of safety renovations is expected to be done by next school year.

"The last game was between Ike and Davis and the conditions were horrifying, as far as it started to rain and it was slick and everything, and we have ankles, knees, and legs that could be broken," said Kristen Chard.

So parents like Kristen can watch their children play without worry.

Renovating the stadium would also allow Yakima to host college state competitions. The school board expects to vote on a financing option by next month.