The Fischer Field stadium is not in danger of falling down, but falling pieces of concrete inside the stadium structure have called attention to some needed repair and maintenance work for the more than 80-year-old facility.
Those falling pieces of concrete have forced the Public Building Commission to consult with a structural engineer and alter plans for both the immediate future and the long term.
“I thought it would be a lot worse, with the age of the structure,” said Carl Harris, a member of the Public Building Commission and President/General Manager Carl Harris Co., Inc., a construction firm.
Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita inspected Fischer Field, and found the surface of the stadium is deteriorating due to foot traffic and weather, and drainage has become an issue. In addition, there are “numerous” fine cracks on the surface of the stadium.
There is one crack, in the east locker room, that shows corrosion and has been reported as leaking.
According to PEC, much of the cracking seen is normal in the context of the age of the stadium.
The good news is PEC stated in the report “there are no indication that the structure has any eminent dangers and use of the facility may continue.” However, repair is needed.
The recommended repair is to replace some concrete that is crumbing, and coat the entire seating area with a new mortar that is sloped for drainage, and then also place a waterproof coating on the upper part of the stadium.
PEC estimated the cost of the project at $30 per square foot for the seating area, and $10,000 for concrete replacement.
City engineer Suzanne Loomis presented her “best guess” estimate for the project, using a three-year phasing of the project. That estimate is $411,000 over the course of three years.
It is unclear how soon the Public Building Commission would take on the project, though a schedule given to the PBC Thursday showed phase one in 2017.
However, the commission chose to place a concession and restroom building project in Athletic Park at Kelsch Field on hold. That project, budgeted at $280,000, is undergoing revision as bids for the project came in over budget.
The commission, at the behest of Harris, chose to table that project and directed Loomis to talk with some specialists to get a better handle on the costs of the project at Fischer Field.
“The (concession) building is nice if we have the money, but we need to take care of the stadium,” said Byron Warta, a member of the PBC.
“This kind of maintenance, when delayed, will not get any better,” Harris added. “I hate to take the restroom and concession stand off, but we need to.”
That action could force a change to the capital improvement master plan, which will need an approval from the city commission, rec commission and board of education. Those three entities fund the Public Building Commission. The entities formed and funded the public building commission, in part, to fund renovations to Fischer Field and other recreational facilities citywide. Each agreed to fund the PBC through 2024.