Band boosters need concession stand upgrades
The movie about high school football was called “Friday Night Lights,” but for many booster clubs that use home games and other events to raise funds for extracurricular activities, the name of the game is more like “fry-day night.”
That's the case for West Mifflin Titan Band Parents boosters who run their stadium's concession stands to help keep student musicians marching. One of their menu items is deep-fried french fries, which presents a problem.
The school district has been advised that it needs to upgrade its concession areas — there are two at the stadium and one in the yet-to-open baseball field house that was built with the new middle school — which need better ventilation and fry hoods if booster clubs are to continue to offer the fried products.
Cost of installing three hoods and exhausts in the facilities is estimated at around $12,000 each, according to an estimate by the district's architect. School officials are now considering bearing the costs of the facilities upgrades so booster clubs don't have to.
“Our boosters do such a good job of helping out the district. This is a lot of money for them and they just can't afford it,” said school director Phil Shar, who at a recent board meeting floated the idea of using anticipated revenues from an upcoming bond refinancing and leftover funds from the middle school construction project to pay for the upgrades.
“This is a one-time investment,” Shar said of the estimated $36,000 expenditure. “These booster clubs will, over time, pay us back times 10.”
Shar and others have noted that because the field house is new and the stadium is expected to last at least several more decades, investments in the concession areas of both buildings would be lasting ones.
District business manager Dennis Cmar said the concession upgrades are within the district's financial means, should the school board choose to approve them. Cmar said there is about $1.36 million left in the construction fund for the middle school, though some of that is still owed to contractors.
Cmar said the board could choose to borrow off the second phase of a bond refinancing to occur in January. Another, less likely option, would be for the board to fund the upgrades out of its general or capital projects budgets.
District building and grounds director Sandra Wells noted the $36,000 estimate from the district architect, McLean Architects, is only a working estimate. Wells said she is looking into the project and trying to get a firmer estimate.
“By January, we should have a better number,” she said.
Wells said McLean advised the district that better ventilation was needed for the fry areas based on the International Mechanical Code. If the upgrades aren't made, she said booster clubs will have to locate their fry stations outside of the buildings for future events.
Band boosters president Sarah Butko said, “We will proceed with whatever decision (the school board) makes.
“If (the district) can (pay for the upgrades) that's wonderful,” said Butko, who is employed as a secretary in the district's administrative offices. “We won't do anything until the district tells us what their final decision is.”
Butko said the band boosters would not be able to fund the upgrades out of their own budget.
Track boosters also operate a concession area at the stadium. Baseball boosters will operate concessions at the field house.
Shar, who coached girls basketball at the high school for 19 seasons, said he will continue “leading the charge” for the upgrades unless they are deemed unfeasible.
“The fryers will improve both facilities — the stadium and field house — while benefiting our booster clubs. This is a win-win situation,” said Shar.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.