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Advertisement MHS football field to stay at Thomas Park
by Brandon Wellman · December 3rd, 2010

Future upgrades to the Marion Independent School District's football field and track will happen at their present location, the Marion school board decided at its meeting last Monday night, November 22.

The board voted 5-1 to keep the facilities at Thomas Park, instead of moving them to the Les Hipple Athletic Complex at Marion High School. Board member Mary Ames was absent, and board member Bill Huntoon provided the lone "nay" vote.

Working with architectural firm Shive Hattery, the district this year developed the two concepts to determine how to focus on athletic facility upgrades.

Improvements to the football field at its current location are slated to include updated parking, as well as newer bleachers and concessions. Including revamping the athletic facilities at the Hipple Complex, Shive Hattery estimates the option costing approximately $6.7 million. The cost to bring all facilities to the Hipple Complex was estimated at roughly $9.3 million. District administration recommended keeping the football field and track at Thomas Park as a money-saving measure.

A poll, conducted in October, showed respondents were largely in favor of keeping the facilities in their present location, with many citing long-standing tradition. According to the poll, 290 were in favor of a plan to upgrade the field where it currently is, while 116 supported the proposed concept that would move the field to the Hipple Complex.

Responding to public concerns that the district was trying to make a quick decision on the upgrades, the board agreed previously that the decision would be made purely to set a course of action for the facilities upgrade, and to determine how much money would have to be raised over the next few years.

Other promised projects are on the district's radar, including facilities for MISD fine arts programs. The board has said that those facilities are still at the top of the priority list, and that the athletic facilities are not being placed ahead of them.

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