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PLANS PROGRESS FOR FIELD HOUSE AT WILEY PAVILION SITE

Plans are in the works for a 10,000-square-foot field house on the site of the Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at Jefferson Avenue and Best Street.

Larry Stitts, chairman of the facility's board of directors, said the board is now ready to approach the Common Council to solicit bids for an architect.

Three preliminary designs by architect Robert T. Coles have been submitted to the board, said Common Council President James W. Pitts.

"Right now, there are just two steps left to be taken," Pitts said. "We need to finalize the design and identify additional monies (for the construction of the field house)."

Pitts said the Council allocated about $7 million for the project through the sale of bonds nearly four years ago.

Constructing the field house will be the second phase of construction at the refurbished former War Memorial Stadium. The facility, completed six years ago, is designed to serve a multitude of functions, including youth football, the YMCA Summer Games, the Buffalo Bills football clinic and Buffalo Public Schools track-and-field meets.

"Once we get the field house in there, that should complete the project, other than some cosmetics that might still be required," said Stitts. "There were plans for a new field house (at the pavilion) from day one."

Stitts said a board committee reviewed designs for other amateur athletic facilities built in the city, including the one at the Gloria Parks Community Center on Main Street and the new community center inside the Bailey Avenue Police Station, before approaching Coles about coming up with a series of conceptual designs.

"The board committee talked to directors from those centers to see what problems they experienced, as well as any designs we may want to include in our plans. We just wanted to see what we can learn from their experiences," Stitts said.

Pitts said preliminary plans for the field house call for it to be located either on the Jefferson Avenue side of the pavilion, near what was the entrance to the former stadium, Rockpile, or on the Dodge Street side of the facility, near the basketball courts. The completed field house would accommodate indoor track and field, basketball, soccer and other youth activities.

Earlier this year, Delta Sonic Car Wash provided a $2 million endowment that will be used to help finance athletic programs at the pavilion. Pitts said none of those funds would be used for field house construction. However, he said, with the endowment available to fund programs at the amateur athletic facility, there are more block grants and capital projects funds available for the construction of the field house.

Pitts said he is hopeful the Council will take action on hiring an architect soon after lawmakers return from recess in September. Construction, he said, could begin by fall.

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