Contrary to popular belief, the situation between Union County and the Union County School District regarding the Union County Stadium remains unsettled.
A story from the Aug. 9, 2012 edition of The Union Daily Times headlined “Yellow Jackets may not play home game at Union County Stadium” sparked conversation among several other media outlets and around the county. The story described options given to the school district regarding a lease or rental of Union County Stadium for home football games and graduation.
Stadium and airport director Ronnie Wade said at Tuesday evening’s county council meeting that two benches for the sidelines have already been ordered and that the City of Union will install 17 new lights at the stadium. He also said the scoreboard is scheduled for repair next week.
“We will play football at the stadium,” Wade said. “The process is going on. Everything is going well, and we will welcome them (the UCHS football team) there and hopefully we will have a successful season.”
However, as of 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the school district said there is still no deal because a new contract sent to the Union County Council by the district had still not been signed.
When Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair was asked about the signing of the contract, he said the intent and expectation of the county is for the stadium to be used for Yellow Jacket football as it has been at the price of the last two years. That price is a rental fee of $45,000. Sinclair said that any outcome or decision other than that would be a school district decision.
“There was a contract signed in 2007 that automatically renews every July,” Sinclair said. “Any new contract would be the result of a joint meeting between the two bodies. Council has not approved or disapproved any new contract. They have agreed to a $45,000 payment for this year with an invitation to a joint meeting to discuss all future relations and expectations for district use of county facilities.”
However, according to Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall, that contract from 2007 ended because of a renegotiation clause. The contract was modified, and nothing was recorded in written form after the change of terms.
“The 2007 contract ended when the district sent a letter requesting renegotiation in 2010,” Woodall said. “Our district has operated without a written agreement for two years. We — under advice by our attorneys — cannot continue to have a verbal agreement.”
Woodall said the district is seeking clarification.
As the situation progresses, look for more information and updates in The Union Daily Times and at www.uniondailytimes.com.
During the last school year, the Union County School District rented the Union County Stadium — for home football games and a graduation ceremony — for $45,000.
In late June, Union County Council had a committee meeting and forwarded the school district notes from the meeting. It was suggested that the district rent the stadium for the upcoming school year at a price of $95,000 — a $50,000 increase — as had been the agreement in years past. Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall said the district questioned that proposal because the stadium is used by the district less now than it was during the time the district was paying $95,000.
Union County also offered an alternative, which was for the district to lease the stadium for $1 and assume responsibility for the maintenance and operation.
The district called in attorneys, consultants, architects and engineers to complete inspections and advise them as to whether leasing was an option. After completing a full report, engineering consultants explained that leasing was not an option.
Although inspectors found no situation at the stadium that was an imminent danger, the stadium does not meet 2012 codes for school districts, and it would need to do so for the district to assume a lease. If the district rents the stadium from the county and it is up to code for the county’s standards, the district could use the stadium as is. However, for the district to assume a lease, the stadium would have to be brought up to the 2012 codes of the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of School Facilities. Such a project would have been a multi-million dollar project for the district.
This prompted the district to give the county a counter-offer.
Although the county has agreed to the $45,000 rental price, a new contract must be put in place with all terms agreed upon. The district says a new contract has been sent to Union County Council, but they have not responded.