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August 11, 2014

Plans for new football fields at East and West are on track

Sealed bids for the construction of new artificial turf athletic fields at Belleville East and Belleville West High School were opened Friday and there remains a chance the fields could be finished during the upcoming season.

"Right now we're studying all the bids and it looks like we're going to be able to get this done," Jeff Dosier, District 201 Superintendent, said Monday. "We're excited that it's going to happen."

Dosier said the next board meeting is Aug. 18 and the topic will definitely be revisited. Plans are in place to build new turf fields at a cost of $1.2 million that would be used for football, boys and girls soccer and a variety of other activities.

"I'm not sure if the contracts will be awarded on that night, but we definitely will be having discussion," Dosier said.

Earlier this summer, board members pointed toward having the fields completed by the third week of the football season. Opening night for area football teams is Aug. 29, which would put the potential planned completion date around the Sept. 12-13 weekend.

"I think that's a pretty ambitious goal right now to get it done by the third week," said Dosier, who indicated Belleville East and Belleville West home games could be played at Lindenwood University in Belleville, or even at whichever new field is completed first. "Obviously we need to make sure our contingency play will work but I think there is a chance we can get it done. Until we can award the contracts and sit down with the contractor to set a schedule, we won't know for certain."

Besides hosting home football games and other athletic events for Lindenwood-Belleville, the college field is also home to Althoff High School's football team.

In early July, Dosier said about $950,000 of the $1.2 million project had been raised through private donations that included area businesses, parents, families, sports teams and other sources.

Dosier said the reason the project did not begin earlier this year to have the fields ready for the start of the fall sports seasons is much of the money is in the form of pledges or advertising commitments.

"We've taken kind of a cautious approach because not all of (the money) is raised," Dosier said. "It's raised and pledged and the advertising agreements are over a period of five years. We took a cautious approach to make sure we have enough money.

"We've also tried to make sure that we're bidding at the appropriate time. We're just trying to make sure we do it right rather than doing it fast."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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