Cost debate delays construction of new Tommy Oliver Stadium

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - When Bay District School officials started the project to rebuild the historic Tommy Oliver Stadium this summer, they hoped it would be ready for May graduations next year.
They're now having to consider other options for the ceremonies as they are still debating how to build a state of the art stadium while getting the best bang for their buck.
"We had all planned, everyone involved in this had planned to start a lot sooner," Facilities Director John Bozarth said.
The district hired GAC Contractors to demolish the original stadium in late July to make way for the new one.
Crews quickly began the ground work, which is still underway, but it could be February before there are any signs of brick and mortar on site. Construction on the actual structure is at a standstill until the school board approves a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP).
The board initially expected the entire Half Cent Sales Tax project to cost about $6.6 Million. Bozarth said they've already spent about $2.5 Million on the demolition and ground work contracts alone.
"It's like buying a car. Tax, tag, and title. The bleachers alone are two millions dollars," he said.  "Our job right now is to find ways to bring that cost down because we have other projects that we want to do."
Bozarth said he's working with architects and contractors on cutting costs. For example, they'll now renovate the former driver's education building into the second field house, instead of building a new one.
The delay means Tommy Oliver will not be ready for 2017 graduations or football games.
"I don't mind the delay as long as it's done right, and we get what we want when the end product comes around," Vern Barth, Bay High's athletic director, said.
Bozarth plans to present the final price to the school board for approval in February. Once approved, the construction is expected to take about a year.
"Everyone has a memory of Tommy Oliver and playing there. It was an important venue, and it was something that Bay County could be proud of, and we're trying to do that again with a budget we can live with," Bozarth said.

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