School board member Emanuel Capers is pushing to build a multi-sports dome behind School 15. He said the bubble, often used by colleges for athletic training, will accommodate a number of sports like football, basketball, soccer, and track.
Capers’ indoor facility has a price tag of $4.25 million, according to a preliminary estimate documents produced by the school district. He plans to raise the funds from private sources, he said.
“It’s going to be a private investor project,” said Capers. He said he is looking at private investors and native athletes. “It’s not going to come off the taxpayer dollars.”
Capers is putting together a fund-raising committee to identify donors and pitch the bubble that student athletes can use all year round. It has three levels with a 200′ x 300′ weatherproof enclosure.
The project also includes a concession stand for events and bathrooms (presently, the Bauerle Field is supported by a porta-potty). The dome will be built next to Bauerle Field, behind School 15, on a site that has a ramshackle basketball court.
Capers said the land is owned by the school district. The space is neglected: graffiti is on every wall and last year vagrants set up camp at the location before being driven out by school security officials.
The basketball court and a wall at the site has to be demolished to make way for the dome. Capers recognized that could increase costs for the project.
“We have to look ahead,” said Capers while surveying the future site of the bubble last week. His project has the support of superintendent Eileen Shafer and mayor Andre Sayegh. Neither the district nor the municipal government has funds to financially support the project, said both.
The city has a big deficit and the school district has laid off hundreds of employees over the past years.
“We haven’t had a formal discussion about it. I haven’t seen an official rendering. I’d like to see more,” said Sayegh on Monday. “If it’s not a burden on our budget or the school budget, it’s certainly worth exploring.”
Capers recognized raising $4.25 million from private sources won’t be easy.
“It sounds like a lot, but I think we can reach that goal,” said Capers. He said an indoor facility is badly needed for the district’s students. “We don’t have no indoor facilities where our student could practice. This will be a project that will service thousands of kids over time.”
Capers said the project also has the potential to give a boost to the poor and crime-ridden Sandy Hill neighborhood.