GNADENHUTTEN — The Indian Valley Board of Education is considering building a new football stadium near the high school.

The board voted Monday, March 19, to authorize Superintendent Ira Wentworth to solicit statements of qualifications for professional design services for the project.

"The board feels strongly about completing the facilities at Indian Valley for the generations to follow," he said. "The stadium is the last piece of that puzzle. This is only step one in a journey of 1,000 steps.

"The thought is that our 1995 bond issue that provided additional classrooms and a gymnasium at Indian Valley High School expires in 2019, so perhaps taking that issue to the public in November could be done without adding additional expense to the voters."

The board's action was the first step in the process.

"We have to advertise for design firms to submit qualifications," he said. "From those the board would pick two or three to consider. Those design firms would present a plan and scope of the project and the projected budget for the project. We have to get through that step so we know the dollar amount we're looking at before going to the county auditor to see how that cost would compare to the expiring 1995 bond issue."

If a new stadium is built, it would be constructed on land behind the high school. The land is owned by Tusco Display, but the board has been in conversations with the owner of the company about purchasing some land, Wentworth said.

Currently, the Indian Valley football team plays its home games at Kelley Field in Midvale. One of the main concerns with the field is the lack of parking.

"It is a big concern, but fortunately we have a good relationship with the owners of Midvale Speedway and have been able to use some of their parking to alleviate the congestion," he said.

In addition, the current track surface has been in place since the early 2000s. It was supposed to have a 10-year lifespan, "which we have well exceeded," Wentworth said. "The track is in bad shape and needs attention."

Because of space limitations at Kelley Field, there is only room enough for a six-lane track. A full-size track is eight lanes, which is necessary if a school district wants to host a conference meet, a district meet or a regional meet.

Kelley Field, named for the family that donated the land, has been in use since the late 1950s, first for Midvale High School, and then for both Indian Valley South and Indian Valley North.

A new stadium would include bleachers, a locker room and restrooms, an eight-lane track and adequate parking.

As for Kelley Field, it would remain open. It would be used as a walking track open to the community and as a practice field for the middle school football teams, Wentworth said.

"Now they practice on a small lot behind the middle school in Tuscarawas," he said. "In the late fall, it's like playing on the Sahara Desert. There is no grass and plenty of rocks. Kelley Field would be a better facility for the seventh and eighth grade programs."

Seventh and eighth grade games would be played at the new facility.