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Kingsport leaders want to hold J. Fred Johnson Stadium renovations to $4.4 million

Matthew Lane • Jun 18, 2013 at 12:13 AM

KINGSPORT — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen wants to see a guaranteed maximum price for the improvements at J. Fred Johnson Stadium, given that the low bid for the work came in last week at more than $1 million over the original estimate.

The stadium project dominated much of the discussion during a BMA work session Monday afternoon, where city leaders were having their final look at Kingsport’s five-year capital improvement plan.

The CIP contains a number of projects and equipment purchases for the city, the school system and the water and sewer department. Some items are fully funded within one of those five years; others are funded over a number of years.

Three months ago to the day the BMA got its first look at the CIP, and in that time city leaders, for the most part, have been focusing their efforts on the projects funded during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The most notable item has been the renovation and expansion of J. Fred Johnson Stadium, a project that adds 1,500 new seats, a new press box and new areas for concessions, improved handicapped accessibility and new restrooms along with wider aisles and handrails, an elevator and new covered concourses.

The project also includes a 1,200-square-foot dressing room near first base for visiting football and baseball teams, with family bathrooms available for non-athletic events.

Consultants have estimated the project costing $4.2 million, but local contractors say the work is more in the $5.1 to $5.3 million range. Last week, Kingsport accepted bids for the project, with the low one at $5.4 million and the high one around $6 million.

“Those bids are high. We’ve talked with the low bidder, and they’re willing to do what they can to help reduce (that amount), but they’re going to have a hard time reaching the $4.6 million range,” City Manager John Campbell told the BMA on Monday. “We’re likely to reject all those bids.”

CHA Sports, a New York-based sports facility design company, has been working with Kingsport City Schools, the city of Kingsport and a citizens committee for more than a year on the project, coming up with conceptual drawings and designs, along with the $4.2 million cost estimate for the work.

Kingsport paid CHA Sports $250,000 for the schematic design, design development and pre-preparation of construction drawings for the stadium project, which at the time Campbell said should give the city a very accurate cost of the project.

“This company should not be let back in the door. They took us to the cleaners for $250,000,” Mayor Dennis Phillips said. “I’d have a real hard time giving them an extra $10.”

Campbell said CHA Sports has indicated it would continue to see the stadium project through with no additional cost to the city.

In the end, the BMA advised Campbell to see if anyone would be willing to do the stadium work for a guaranteed maximum price with a construction manager — a process Kingsport used with the aquatic center to help keep the cost within a certain budget.

Campbell said he would feel comfortable with a $4.6 million figure; Phillips said his comfort level was $4.2 million, but ultimately $4.4 million was the agreed upon target number.

Campbell has included $4.4 million in the proposed CIP for the project, noting the $200,000 increase from the original $4.2 million was because of the addition of the locker room building.

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