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Company makes pitch for 'mini-stadium'; MAHS field hockey, soccer would have synthetic turf

By Laura Hayes


Posted 6/27/18



Middletown Area School District may spend $382,300 to hire the firm Architerra to oversee the design and construction of a synthetic turf “mini-stadium.”

David …

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Company makes pitch for 'mini-stadium'; MAHS field hockey, soccer would have synthetic turf


Middletown Area School District may spend $382,300 to hire the firm Architerra to oversee the design and construction of a synthetic turf “mini-stadium.”

David Horn, president and founding principal of Architerra, which is based in Coopersburg, presented the MASD School Board with his proposal for professional services for both the field and its amenities June 19.

In February, district Chief Financial Officer David Franklin told the Press & Journal that the synthetic field would be used mainly for soccer and field hockey, but it could also be used for junior varsity and younger football teams, although the varsity football team’s main venue would continue to be War Memorial Field next to Fink Elementary School.

The school board did not vote on the proposal. The project is estimated to cost $3.2 million.

In an interview after the June 19 meeting, Franklin said that the board hasn’t made any action to approve constructing the field or committed to where it may be located, though it could be located south of Reid Elementary School or in front of the high school.

The proposal arose out of a master plan of the district’s outdoor athletic facilities conducted by Architerra. One field recently was closed because of safety concerns, and Franklin said more sports were scheduled to play on War Memorial Field.

War Memorial Field can’t sustain the additional activity for an indefinite period, Franklin said.

“The recommendation was that the district could benefit from a form of a synthetic field,” Franklin said.

All of MASD’s fields have natural grass, and Franklin said the district has rejected offers to use their fields for tournaments. A synthetic field, he said, could help generate revenue. Such a stadium likely could play host to Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association playoff games.

Horn said the stadium would seat about 750 people and include grandstand seating, a press box, field lights, perimeter fencing and one or two athletic support buildings. 

Up until this point, Franklin said Horn and Architerra have not been hired to do a design of the field or oversee construction.

Under the proposal, Horn said, Architerra will be involved with a number of other steps during construction process such as surveying, creating a stormwater management plan, construction documents, bidding services and construction administration.

Horn said he anticipated awarding three contracts for construction of the field — one each for general site construction, plumbing and electrical. He said they would also bring on two additional consultants for the building and stormwater management design.

He cautioned that they wouldn’t be the cheapest team.

“We’re going to give you a fair price for the best team that I could assemble,” Horn said.

The price tag was $382,3000. The price, Horn added, is able to be negotiated. Horn said the fee is not based on a percentage of the construction cost but instead on actual man hours.

“We’ve done projects almost identical to this,” Horn said.

There are ways that the board could cut costs, Horn said, such as altering the architectural scope of work and delaying construction of the athletic support buildings.

Board President Linda Mehaffie asked that if the test results — issues with stormwater management, for example — are not positive, could the district stop the project? Mehaffie said she was concerned whether there would be “red flags” about the location of the project.

“If you were to engage us, you have the right to stop this project at any time without experiencing any kind of financial penalty,” Horn said.

He said there were times during the process when the project can be stopped, such as once bids come in.

Design and construction is estimated to take 18 months, and Horn said he hoped bids would be accepted in October 2019 and construction would begin in 2020 and finish in the end of July.

The months leading up to construction would be spent on designing the field and meeting with Lower Swatara leaders and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.