Stadium drive kicks off

Taking on a big project in the midst of a troubled economy presents a daunting challenge, but supporters of a new Enumclaw stadium are proceeding with cautious optimism.

The sparkplug behind efforts to rehabilitate the venerable Pete’s Pool football field at the Enumclaw Expo Center is the Your Enumclaw Area Stadium (YEAS) committee, and YEAS members are planning a fundraising “tailgate luncheon” May 7 at the adjacent fieldhouse. The event is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The luncheon takes the place of the regularly-scheduled Enumclaw Rotary meeting and Mayor John Wise hopes to see a healthy dose of Rotarians in the audience, along with members of other service groups and representatives of the Enumclaw business community. Invitations have been extended to area merchants, Wise said, noting that he’s hoping for a crowd of about 150.

Along with an briefing of project details, the afternoon will include a talk by EHS football coach Don Bartel.

The desire for a new stadium has been kicked around for years, as facilities throughout the region were modernized, leaving Pete’s Pool in the dust. Home to the Enumclaw High Hornets, the stadium does not meet the state’s expectations, meaning if the Hornets were successful enough to land a home playoff game, they would not be allowed to play in town.

The stadium is one of the few natural grass fields in the area and is known for its dominant “crown” – higher in the middle of the field and sloping to the sidelines – a feature that might help with drainage but doesn’t do much for the football experience.

YEAS members envision a renovated facility that would meet the needs of the EHS football team and would also be suitable for the Wolverine junior football program and all levels of soccer.

The project entails two phases, one immediate and another that could take several years to pull off, Wise admits.

The immediate goal is to install a synthetic turf field, an undertaking that carries a price tag estimated at about $1.2 million, Wise said.

Committee members will be looking to the community for help, hoping to round up local business willing to lend a hand with things like grading and adding a base of sand and gravel.

If some work can be donated and fundraising is successful, Wise said, a new field could be in place within a couple of years. The group had initially hoped to have Phase I complete for the 2010 season, but the state of the economy could push things back a year, he noted.

Phase 2 of the Pete’s Pool project calls for modern grandstands to be built on the now-vacant west side of the field.

A Renton firm, ORB Architects, surveyed the Enumclaw site and has drafted detailed plans for grandstands that would provide seating for 2,000 fans. Under the stands would be two locker rooms, a large storage area, a concession stand, restrooms and more. From an appearance standpoint, but best local examples are Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood and Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wise said.

Phase 2 will not happen immediately, not with a cost estimate of perhaps $5 million, Wise admits.

But the YEAS committee will be working toward that goal, he said, looking at various fundraising efforts, including corporate sponsorships and naming rights. The latter concept has worked in Sumner, where the Spartans compete on the turf of Sunset Chev Stadium.

“It really will take a community effort to get this thing going,” Wise said, explaining that a larger kickoff to the project is planned for Aug. 22 and 23.