Mercer Island School District to rebuild press box, concessions stand at stadium

The current press box at MIHS is a safety concern for the district. The new press box and concessions stand would be built in time for the next football season. - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
The current press box at MIHS is a safety concern for the district. The new press box and concessions stand would be built in time for the next football season.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

A small piece of the Mercer Island School District bond, which failed in 2012, included rebuilding the Mercer Island High School press box and concessions stand. Despite the bond’s failure, MISD has been looking for a way to rebuild it anyway, due to structural and safety issues.

During the Mercer Island School Board meeting on Thursday, May 2, the board discussed and saw plans for the new portion of the stadium.

The district has found money in the 2008 Capital Projects levy funds to pay for the project.

“The current press box is structurally compromised and the concession stand is located in an area that does not facilitate the sale of products or the movement of fans within the stadium,” said information provided by the district at the board meeting.

The original plans to redo the small building located at the top of the field were listed as more than $300,000, which would have been built from two modular buildings. The new project guidelines, which call for the building to be built as new construction, list the budget for the project as $111,250. Once finished the stadium would include a new, larger concession stand along the 50-yard line of the football field, along with a press box upstairs. The bathrooms would remain on the northern end of the field, but expanded into what is now the concessions area.

While the current press box is at the top of the stands, which creates a bottleneck for fans, the new building would be set on the far side of the pavement, into the JV field. Though the building, which would be about a 20-by-40-foot building, would jut into what is currently grass on the JV field, that field would not lose any playing space because of a 50-foot buffer.

Dean Mack, the executive director of business services and human resources, said the project would involve pushing the current JV field fence back five feet, adding pavement that would create a place for concessions customers to line up, out of the way of the rest of the pathway. The concessions stand would have four windows, each serving two people at a time.

“It will be fast and efficient,” he said. “We’ve talked to the coaches and boosters, who are very excited. They think they can quadruple sales.”

The upstairs portion of the building will be accessed by stairs from the backside. It will include rooms on each end for the team coaches, and the center portion of the room will include two levels, allowing two rows of people to sit.

“They are excited that it will be on the 50-yard line,” said Tony Kuhn, the director of maintenance and operations for the district. The current press box is off-set around the 40-yard line, which makes filming games difficult. The building will also include windows on the JV field side, which will allow it to be used for games on both sides.

“This would take us out of a safety issue,” said Plano of the project.

“It seems like an extremely well thought out and extremely cost-efficient plan,” said board member Dave Myerson.

Board member Brian Emanuels expressed some concerns about whether the project could truly be done before the beginning of the next football season, given that it was already May.

“We’re very confident we can,” said Mack. He added they are already in the process of working with the city on permits, and that either way they would not demolish the current press box until everything has been approved.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of the project.

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