Steve Snyder knows so much about building seating for sporting facilities that he includes the word "Stadium" in his moniker.
"Stadium" Steve Snyder, representing Seating and Athletic Facility Enterprises of Ellendale, MN, shared information with the Vermillion School Board Jan. 11 concerning the estimated costs of an outdoor football stadium, should the board decide to invest in its own outdoor track and football field.
"The cost of bleachers – an elevated angle-frame bleacher – you can figure about $100 a gross seat. That would be something that you would typically see on the visitors' side," Snyder told the board. "The I-beam grandstand, generally speaking, is about $175 per net seat, and that does include a foundation system as long as the soils aren't really, really out of reach and you don't have to put down some casings or something like that."
Many stadiums also include press boxes, and they generally cost approximately $185 per square foot.
"That's craned in place, they are totally finished, they've been inspected, and that's with a photo platform system on top as well," he said.
"The grandstand figures include all of the seating, an interlock type of deck, but they obviously have a wheelchair ramp and all of the guardrail systems," Snyder said. "It does have an understructure steel support for a press box in case you want to build one locally on top of that."
Snyder's company just completed a stadium at Brookings. Other local communities that include the Minnesota's firm's sports seating include Yankton, Harrisburg, Garretson, Lennox and Huron.
"Typically, on a project what we provide, besides the materials, is all of the structural design. We have an engineer who is registered with the state who signs and seals all of the drawings and the calculations," Snyder said. "The one piece of information that we need to have is a soil boring test with an analysis. That way, we can design a proper footing that will marry into that soil."
Snyder's company also provides stadiums that include individual plastic seating. The cost of that feature, he said, is $150 per stadium chair above and beyond the $175 per net seat that he quoted for standard bench seating.
"When you get into anything with backrests or stadium chairs, then you also have to increase your tread depth," he said. "So beyond the cost of the chair, you need to go to a minimum of a 30-inch depth from front to front. That, of course, increases your aluminum and increases your steel."
Some schools that decide to feature seating reduce costs by only including them in a portion of the stadium, and using the standard bleacher seating in the remainder of the facility.
The school board is exploring the costs of making improvements to its outdoor football field and track, located near the high school. Proposed future costs, which are substantially higher than in past years, of using the USD DakotaDome as the Tanager football program's home field, are driving the discussion.
The high school's outdoor facilities has limited seating and no lighting.
The board is discovering, as it reviews its options, that it has little time remaining to make a decision.
"Generally speaking, we'd like to have all of the shop drawings approved and back to the factory by mid-April," Snyder said, "in order to get it in for football. That's a fairly safe date. We can be quicker than that, but that's a fairly safe date that we like to shoot for.
"That said, if you are going to do it, you probably need to bid it by mid-March, and that gives us a month to do shop drawings and get them out here and review them and get them back to the factory," he said.
Snyder added, however, that there is some flexibility built into that schedule.
"You've got a lot of decisions, and if it just can't happen by then, we can live with whatever," he said.
Snyder has been involved in the stadium construction business for 29 years. His very first facility, built in a Minnesota community, is a baseball stadium that is still in use today.
"It looks basically the same as the day I put it in. Longevity really isn't an issue," he said. "They are really a very durable product. It's basically a no-maintenance product."
Snyder said he is often asked by schools to recommend the number of seats in a stadium proposal. "That's really tough, but you're in the 1,000 to 2,000 range, probably, if you are talking about football. It's best if you can get some kind of ticket sales data and blend in your season tickets to come up with the amount of people that normally come (to a game).
"What you want to do," he added, "is build the stadium so that it's fairly full. But on the other hand, you don't want to build it so small that you're always out of seats, either. You want to have a crowd effect. It all depends on if you're team is winning or not. It really does. I can look at schools and see which ones are winning, and which ones are expanding their seating."
Snyder said it would likely be more cost effective for the school district to either refurbish its small existing bleacher facility and place it one side of the field for visitors, and locate its main stadium on the other side for the home crowd.
The total cost of a smaller stadium, along with other required improvements to the field, is estimated to cost approximately $360,000. The smaller facility would be an option if the Tanagers would be able to continue playing football in the DakotaDome.
Superintendent Mark Froke noted that if it becomes necessary to convert what is currently the school's practice field into its outdoor football/track facility, a larger stadium would be required, and the costs would go up approximately $400,000. Field lighting estimated to cost $170,000, would also be required, and is included in the total $760,000 cost of constructing seating and making other improvements for playing football outdoors.
"Budget-wise, that can be handled if you want to go down that road," Froke said.