Architect Brian Templeton outlined the facility to Council members.
He recapped structural issues with the walls of the existing Raider Dome and mentioned some safety concerns with the design, such as not being able to “lock down” the classrooms during weekend and evening games.
“If you built the dome just as it is right now, it would be $11 million,” Cleveland City Schools director Martin Ringstaff said. “For a million dollars more you can increase the capacity … I think we are being as frugal as we can be.”
The option being proposed by the Cleveland Board of Education would seat 2,700 spectators while retaining academic space. The current Raider Dome has seats for 1, 500.
Two classrooms would be located off the gymnasium lobby. The gym would be designed with a curtain or movable wall to divide the gym, allowing two classes to meet at the same time.
Input from community members, coaches and physical education teachers has been collected on what they would like to see in a new facility. District 5 Councilman Dale Hughes asked if the facility would be suitable for graduation and other such events.
“That’s the vision. The vision is to be able to use this facility for different purposes,” Templeton said.
District 4 Councilman David May Jr. asked about costs for furnishing the facility. Ringstaff said the equipment and furniture from the current gymnasium would be used.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland asked if there would be any value from the bricks or steel in the facility structure that could be salvaged after the demolition. Templeton said this should be included in estimates from the demolition contractor.
Cleveland school board member Murl Dirksen said the board liked the design because it had a walkway at the second floor level around the gymnasium. Rather than entering at the floor level and walking up the bleachers to find their seats, spectators will enter at a higher level lobby that opens to the walkway. They would then walk down the bleachers to their seats. Templeton said this will help to smooth foot traffic flow.
Councilman At-Large George Poe wanted to know the difference between the proposed facility and a gymatorium.
Templeton said a gymatorium usually has a performance area or stage built in. He said the school has a theater and wouldn’t need that kind of facility.
The Council did not approve funding for the project, nor did it approve funding to pay an architect who has developed a plan for the proposed new elementary school.
A vote on funding had been delayed until the Council could receive more information on refinancing existing debt.
The Council approved refinancing two loans from a fixed rate to variable debt service, locking in the variable rate at 2.5 percent for the first five years. The city will have the option to convert the loan to a fixed interest rate.
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said the debt service payments on the bond would not change.
“If you built the dome just as it is right now, it would be $11 million. For a million dollars more you can increase the capacity … I think we are being as frugal as we can be.” — Dr. Martin Ringstaff