Panther Stadium

The press box, visitors locker rooms and concessions stand (in the background) total more than $130,000 of the nearly $207,000 in additional funds needed to complete the Panther Stadium bond project improvements.


The Derby Board of Education approved a set of changes totaling $206,922.79 to the Panther Stadium bond project budget on Sept. 27.

Burke Jones, director of operations, presented the proposed changes at the last school board meeting of September. The changes include higher-than-expected Evergy connection fees, press box adjustments, and requirements from the state fire marshal.

Fire safety changes, which represent more than half of the total costs, were handed down by the state fire marshal after an in-person, final review of the stadium. Jones said the marshal’s initial plan review, which was performed prior to construction, did not indicate these changes would be necessary.

“These primarily had to do with the visitor locker room/visitor concession stand, which was the existing building that remained on that project. Everything else is brand new,” Jones said. “Just a minor modification was made in that building, and [the fire marshal] is requiring that whole building be 2021 code compliant.”

The fire marshal will not issue a full certificate of occupancy until the changes have been made. The district can still host events in the stadium, but the areas of construction will not be in use.

Jones said the district would not be able to utilize the visitors locker room or visitors concessions building until the fire safety changes are complete. The home concessions stand will serve visiting fans in the meantime, and visiting teams will use the gym at Derby Middle School.

Jones said he anticipates the stadium changes will be complete within the next couple weeks, pending the delivery of some items.

The more than $200,000 in changes to the stadium project are being funded through remaining bond funds from projects that came in under budget. Specifically, Jones noted that the new facilities for Cooper and Oaklawn both are expected to come in about $100,000 under budget.

Jones said he expects the remaining bond funds will total nearly $670,000 after the changes and remaining bond funds from Cooper and Oaklawn are accounted for.

“I’m totally comfortable sleeping at night with the amount of money we have in here,” he said. “It would be a very, very unusual situation that we would be coming back for any additional funds on the remaining projects.”

Some board members expressed frustration with being blindsided by the fire marshal’s final review, but the board ultimately supported the changes 5-0. Board member Pamela Doyle was absent.

“It’s frustrating for us to sit up here and say that we’re spending our money wisely when we’re getting hit with surprise after surprise on some of these projects,” said board member Tina Prunier.

Here is a breakdown of the costs associated with the project changes:

• Press box requirements, including additional raceways for sound cables and additional conduits from the press box to the film platform, total $25,315.

• Scope changes, including the final location of the long jump pit and Evergy connection fees, total $66,383.94.

• Fire marshal inspection requirements, including additional emergency lights, additional duct smoke detectors and new door hardware total $105,223.85. Those items are primarily at the visitors locker room and visitors concessions building.

• A contingency fund totals $10,000.

The Panthers will have their next home game on Oct. 8, when they will host the Campus Colts.