published Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Cleveland schools to consider Raider Dome demolition bids

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. — The Cleveland City Board of Education will review contractor bids Monday for the demolition of Cleveland High School's Raider Dome.

The Raider Dome, which houses the high school's gymnasium, several classroom spaces and core water and heating assets, was closed in December after a structural analysis revealed cracking.

The project received three bids, ranging from $319,500 to $426,000, according to the office of Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.

The bids, opened Thursday, fall within ballpark expectations previously given by consulting architect Brian Templeton of Upland Design in discussions with school officials.

Considerable work must be done before actual demolition begins, Templeton said.

Gas, water and other infrastructure components in the facility's lower levels must be moved, constituting "the first piece of the puzzle," he said.

Demolition work is to begin over summer break with "an aggressive, but doable" time frame of 75 days in an effort to complete major activities before students return on Aug. 5, Templeton said.

The absence of asbestos in the 50-year-old dome is expected to save the project some time and money, he said.

The demolition project is the first phase of the replacement process for Cleveland High School's gymnasium and wellness classroom spaces, which has been capped at $11 million by the city school board.

Templeton said the $11 million cap could necessitate the reduction of proposed bleacher seating capacity from 2,700 to 2,400. A few hundred people can be accommodated in the proposed facility's elevated concourse, he said.

The new gymnasium, regardless of final size, will come close to doubling the 1,500-person bleacher seating of the current gymnasium.

Another reduction might be the loss of a weight room, Templeton said.

The loss of the high schools' weight room would be a blow, said Autumn O'Bryan, principal of Cleveland High School.

"It puts us in a tough place," she said.

The new gymnasium is not just about athletic or special events, it is an essential part of the schools' physical education programming, O'Bryan said.

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

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