Fate Of Stadium Hinges On Credit For Kids

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The solution to finding about $160,000 it would take to finally complete the Payson High School Stadium Project probably rests with the Credit for Kids tax program.

According to Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley, the project could be completed this summer if enough Credit for Kids tax donations are ear-marked for the stadium.

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A proposed new Payson High School football stadium would provide new and updated seating for Longhorn sports fans. Among the many spectators usually on hand are these students who showed up for the season-opening game against Cortez.

The project --hich also included the construction of the all-weather track and field surface last fall --ncludes building a 2,000-seat stadium on the north side of the football field.

The home team bleachers on the south side of the field would become the visitors stands.

The project does not include adding rest rooms or additional concession facilities.

Bradley said improved and expanded seating would boost attendance at football games. Increased gate receipts from additional spectators would bolster the overburdened athletic budget.

"We haven't had an (athletic) budget increase in about 18 years," Bradley said. "Almost 100 percent of the money from (gate) admissions goes right back to the kids."

Football admission receipts are the athletic department's single largest revenue source.

"We depend heavily on them," Bradley said. "More gate receipts would really help the kids."

Although attendance at the two home games this season has been good, the athletic director predicts new and expanded seating would draw even bigger crowds.

"We have people now who have to stand up to watch the game. People really don't want to do that," he said.

In the Credit for Kids program, single taxpayers can contribute up to $200 of their tax money to the local school district. Married taxpayers are allowed to contribute up to $250 of their tax money. The taxpayers have the option of designating where they want their donations to be used.

In 2001 when taxpayers donated more than $189,000 to Credit for Kids, $62,903 of that amount was directed toward the stadium project.

Individual schools also benefited. Payson High School received more than $27,000 and Frontier Elementary was designated for about $25,000. Tax forms to allow taxpayers to donate and designate where they want their donations to be used available at the PUSD offices located at 514 W. Wade Lane. Call (928) 474-2070 for more information.

A new track

Last year, after the Tonto Apaches donated $150,000 to the stadium project, Credit for Kids added another substantial sum that allowed school officials to finally begin the construction of a new track.

Although the project was originally expected to cost about $200,000, renovations to sewer lines and cables under the 400-meter oval upped the construction costs to closer to $300,000.

In July of 2002, the Payson Unified School District governing board accepted General Acrylic's $133,999 to complete the long-awaited construction of the all-weather track surface. The project also included building a retaining wall between the dome and the stadium so that the old bleachers could be moved from the north side to the south. The stands also were refurbished.

The state-of-the-art running surface resulted in the return of high school track and field competition to Payson. Due to the deteriorating condition of the old dirt track, PHS had not hosted a meet in three years.

Last spring, Payson High hosted six meets, which reduced travel expenses in the athletic budget.

If Credit for Kids donations result in enough money to construct the new stadium, it will mark the culmination of an improvement project that was first discussed a decade ago.

It also would mean that Payson would boast of an athletic facility that would be the equal of the state's other Class 4A schools.

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