Construction costs delay Watertown’s new field
WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The first phase of renovations at Allen Mitchell Field in Watertown has been completed, but a delay in phase two means home fans will be sitting on the visitor’s side for the foreseeable future.
The idea to invest $10 million to renovate the field came when updates were needed at both the Allen Mitchell track and the Watertown Arrows Stadium, which was built in 1940.
”The decision-making process was kind of one where we tried to consider, do you remodel both? Do you redo both? Or do you try to combine and ultimately, we decided to combine,” said Watertown Superintendent Jeff Danielsen.
The newly-remodeled space will be home to Watertown’s football, soccer and track teams. The field is located just north of Watertown High School, which will be more convenient for athletes and staff than the current setup.
”We decided that we were going to do the work in phases. So, in the spring of 2022, we broke ground to begin work on the track and what you see here, which we call phase one,” said Danielsen.
On top of resurfacing the track, phase one included the completion of the field itself. The total cost for the first half of the project was around $4 million, and the field was opened to the public in July.
Phase two, however, has not gone as smoothly. The second phase of the project will create 3,750 seats for home fans on the west side of the field as well as press boxes, stadium lights, and a building for bathrooms, concessions and locker rooms. The Watertown School District is hoping to spend around $6.8 million on phase two.
When the bids for phase two came in June, however, they weren’t what the district was hoping to see. Contractors gave price ranges that were 60 percent higher than estimated costs.
Danielsen said this was mainly due to the demand subcontractors were seeing, which drove up the price of electrical work, concrete and plumbing.
”The information we have is they are booked out for a full year with current projects,” said Danielsen.
So, Watertown has put a pin in phase two until September when they’ll accept bids once again. This could push the completion of the project back a year.
In the meantime, architects are reevaluating the district’s plan to see where they can cut costs. Danielsen said the biggest impact will most likely be having one building for concessions and bathrooms instead of the original plan of two.
If bids are accepted in September, Danielsen said the football team will most likely move from their stadium to the new field in the fall of 2025.
“The good part right now is probably 90 to 95 percent of what it will ultimately be used for can be used right now. It’s really those larger, home-crowd events where we need the additional seating,” said Danielsen.
The Watertown varsity boy’s soccer team is preparing to break in the new field during their first home games of the season on Friday and Saturday. Head coach Jesse Hauck said the team is excited about their new home turf, and they are happy to make it work with only visitor-side bleachers.
”For soccer, we’re used to having chairs and not a lot of bleachers, so we’re kind of open. As long as we have some grass and the weather is fine and we’ve got some sunlight, we’re pretty happy. The bleachers are amazing. The field is amazing,” said Hauck.
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