published Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Raider Dome demolition bid process begins in Cleveland

Cleveland High School's Raider Dome, which houses the school's gymnasium, has been closed because of structural problems.
Cleveland High School's Raider Dome, which houses the school's gymnasium, has been closed because of structural problems.
Photo by Paul Leach.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Contractors interested in knocking down the Raider Dome will gather for a pre-bid meeting today at Cleveland High School.

The 50-year-old dome, which houses the school's gymnasium and some classroom space, was closed in December after an unfavorable structural analysis.

Brian Templeton, of the Upland Design Group, recently discussed demolition plans with the Cleveland City School Board.

"Three contractors have shown interest in a project," said Templeton. "We've got a mix of general contractors and demolition contractors, so we expect to get good, competitive numbers."

The 2 p.m. meeting today will allow contractors to see the facility and ask questions, school officials said.

Bids will be opened May 1 but demolition work will wait until students are out of school, said Templeton.

Many other things must be done before the building can come down, he said. Moving gas, water and other infrastructure in the building's lower levels is "the first piece of the puzzle" to be accomplished before demolition begins, he said.

The demolition project has "an aggressive, but doable" time frame of 75 days, although weather certainly could affect the schedule, he said.

The quick time line might cost more but the work must be done before students return Aug. 5, said Templeton.

The school board voted 7-0 to add the cost of moving 10 rows of bleachers from Raider Dome to the high school volleyball gym to demolition expenses.

The school system intends to build a new gymnasium on the site. Preliminary cost estimates are between $11 million and $12.5 million.

In March, the Cleveland City Council voted 4-2 to commit up to $12 million of the city's $12.3 million reserve to construction of the new gym.

City Manager Janice Casteel has repeatedly warned that such a measure would be disastrous for Cleveland.

"This is going to kill the city," she said.

Councilman Richard Banks urged his peers to approve the action, citing the need to move forward with the project as soon as possible.

"This is a black eye for the city if we don't deal with it," said Banks.

He said there was little support for raising property taxes for the project, considering that the City Council approved an 18.51-cent increase last year, said Banks.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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