$14M stadium proposed at Mars Area School District
ADAMS TWP — Mars Area School District is considering a $14 million relocation and expansion of the Mars Athletic Complex stadium after a special meeting Wednesday.
Jon Thomas, of Thomas and Williamson, a construction management firm, presented findings from 2022 enrollment and capacity study that recommended a revitalization of the athletic facility.
“You guys have the tightest stadium in Western Pennsylvania with respect to the distance from the back of bleachers to back of bleachers,” Thomas said. “And there’s a reason for that: You didn’t have an extra foot of space; you had to squeeze it in there, and that’s why it’s as tight as it is.”
According to the study, the bleachers themselves, the public address system and the track’s surface all need to be replaced. Additionally, Thomas said the support buildings for the stadium were minimal and that the Route 228 corridor improvement projects would further limit parking at the complex.
“The facility usage has outgrown the available area,” he concluded.
As both surrounding Adams and Middlesex townships grow, Thomas recommended against simply repairing the stadium itself.
“My goal is to give you a long-term vision of where you can go with this, because I want to prevent you from wasting money,” he said. “I would hate to see you come in and do all these things (and then) put them back in the wrong location. I don’t think that does you any good at all.”
The solution, he said, was demolishing the stadium and rebuilding it in a neighboring “ravine.” The difference in cost would be approximately $3 million, according to Thomas.
“So, you have the opportunity to do grading over here and drop this down about 25 to 30 feet from the ridge,” Thomas explained. “And you could put the stadium down in that natural bowl, and you would have the bleachers going down on the home side.”
The move would include additional parking surrounding the ravine and the construction of a gathering area, press box, concessions and restrooms, he said.
In place of the current stadium, Thomas recommended the construction of a youth baseball field and the extension of the existing baseball field at the complex.
“Mars is now big-time,” Thomas said. “I haven’t been able to say that before, but you guys are big-time. You are one of the growing school districts, and growing school districts have more participation at these kinds of events.”
As part of the study, Thomas recommended a more than $36 million expansion to the overburdened Mars Area Primary Center and Elementary School.
While the brunt of improvements were focused on increasing internal capacity, Thomas also proposed comprehensive expansions to on-site parking and facilities.
The estimated $23 million expansion to Mars Area Primary Center would include additional parking, bus queues and drop-off lanes, according to Thomas, removing the baseball fields in favor of a location at the Mars Athletic Complex.
The $13 million expansion to Mars Area Elementary School would also overhaul parking, bus queues and drop-off points, as well as relocating the school’s playground.
Additional maintenance will be required for Mars Area High School’s tennis courts and the varsity softball fields.
For now, the projects are only conceptual, according to board member Anthony DePretis.
“The depth of a lot of these details is not necessarily there yet,” DePretis said. “That’s the next phase, so we need the public, we need to give our input, we need to give that back to (the administration) and start refining.”
For the stadium and athletic complex, Thomas recommended the school begin considering the project within the next five years. The current timeline for school expansions would see construction begin in 2025, according to Thomas, pending board review and approval.
For more information on the proposals, visit the school district’s website at marsk12.org.
“We have months of work ahead of us,” superintendent Mark Gross said.