Sports dome at Burnsville High?

Idea floated in District 191

Should Burnsville High School have an inflatable sports dome? The idea has been floated in School District 191.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board members took it seriously enough to have some cost estimates assembled. Their reaction to dome options presented at an Aug. 15 workshop was noncommittal. Two board members, DeeDee Currier and Abigail Alt, voiced reservations.

The board’s study is in response to a private firm’s suggestion of a dome partnership with the district, Board Chair Sandy Sweep said. District officials decided instead to consider their own project, which would generate revenue through rental by nonschool sports groups.

Cost estimates range from $1.86 million to $3.37 million. Three options include a dome over the artificial turf field at Pates Stadium.

A year-round field would increase needed athletic-field capacity at the high school, Athletic/Activities Director Jeff Marshall said in an interview. Two of the options would add field space, with a dome over a new artificial turf field.

“Without a doubt, we just don’t have enough fields,” Marshall said. “We don’t have enough green space compared to a lot of other schools in our conference.”

Prime rental hours for outside groups would be after 5 p.m., he said. Three south metro sports domes — the Savage Sports Dome, Soccer Blast in Burnsville and the Irish Sports Dome in Rosemount — are “filled up,” Marshall said.

The growth of lacrosse in Minnesota has increased demand for indoor space in the winter, he said.

Added athletic capacity would be needed to accommodate more physical education classes if BHS switches from grades 10 through 12 to nine through 12, Marshall said. Adding ninth grade has long been discussed in the district.

Minnetonka and Eden Prairie high schools have sports domes, as do private schools Holy Angels and St. Thomas, Marshall said.

Total project costs for a dome over the field at Pates Stadium are estimated at $1.86 million, according to ATS&R architects.

Another option — doming a new field between the school’s baseball and softball fields — is estimated at $3.14 million.

Another option — doming a new field on the northwest corner of school property near Portland Avenue — is estimated at $3.37 million.

The district would fund a dome project through a lease-purchase arrangement, which was used to install the artificial turf at Pates Stadium, said Lisa Rider, executive director of business services.

New taxes to fund the lease for the Pates Stadium dome are estimated at $5 a year on a $200,000 home and $7 a year on a $250,000 home, according to district figures.

Those numbers would roughly double under the other two plans, Rider said.

The project costs don’t include annual operation and maintenance or the annual cost of putting up and taking down a dome. That’s estimated at $40,000.

Under Burnsville city ordinance a dome would be classified as a temporary inflatable structure and could not be up for more than 180 days a year.

The district hasn’t made any revenue estimates. Sweep said she’d like to see the private firm’s research on revenue potential.

Board Member Jim Schmid said a dome should be considered alongside other long-term facility plans being discussed, such as whether to add ninth grade at BHS.