Press box approved for Center Grove football field

Six years ago, Center Grove built a new press box overlooking its high school football field.

Now it is being replaced as the school is spending $1.5 million to add and replace bleachers at the football field.

This time, the cost is being paid for by car dealership owner Ray Skillman.

Exactly how much the new press box will cost has not been determined. Last week, school board members approved speeding up the process of asking for contractors to bid on the project so that the new press box could be built before football season this fall.

Work is expected to start in the next couple weeks, Center Grove schools spokeswoman Stacy Conrad said.

The current press box was built in 2010 with a price tag of about $282,000, which the school district paid for. At the time, school officials said the press box was in poor shape and needed to be replaced, since the main portion was first built in 1975.

Earlier this year, school officials closed the bleachers after an inspection found they had rusted nuts and bolts, misaligned support beams, thinning galvanization that protects the steel and a lack of solid foundation underneath. Two weeks later, Skillman offered to cover the cost of replacing the home and visitors’ sides of the bleachers.

Center Grove will get $1 million to cover the cost of new bleachers at the high school football stadium, and another $500,000 for naming rights of the facility, which can be used for upgrades to the football stadium. Officials also plan to replace the bleachers for fans at the high school tennis courts and soccer fields.

Skillman also wanted to replace the press box as part of that project, and that cost is in addition to the money already committed, Conrad said.

Skillman wanted to build a larger press box which would have more space, and will pay the full cost of the project, Conrad said.

The press box is smaller than other comparably-sized schools and is broken into multiple compartments, which can make finding space for the media attending games challenging.

Skillman had originally planned to work with the Center Grove Education Foundation for the new press box but is now working with the school district. The school board approved declaring an emergency for the press box project because of the limited amount of time to get the work done before football season, according to a memo given to the school board.

With that approval, the school district would not need to advertise to ask for bids from contractors to do the work and could instead ask two companies to turn in proposals, the memo said. G3 and Frank Williams Construction were asked to bid on the project.

A new press box and bleachers, with a price tag of $2.5 million, was part of a $126 million proposal Center Grove officials made in 2008 to redesign the high school. That proposal was later dropped by the school district before it would have gone to a public vote.

But in 2009, a few pieces of the project — including a new press box and bleachers for a price tag of $485,000 — were proposed again. School officials approved spending $282,000 in property tax dollars on the new press box, cutting out the plan for additional seating at the football field, with money from the district’s capital projects fund, which uses property tax dollars to pay for construction, maintenance and technology.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.