Chehalis Foundation and School District to Fund Drainage System Overhaul at Bearcat Stadium


The Chehalis School Board will allocate up to $300,000 to overhaul the drainage system at Bearcat Stadium, the board decided Tuesday. 

That drainage overhaul is the first phase of a project by the Chehalis Foundation, which formally donated $1 million to the school district on Tuesday to renovate the stadium. Eventually, the plan is to install all-weather turf surfaces on the field. 

“This is an exciting time for Bearcat Baseball and the Chehalis community,” said Chehalis Foundation Board member Tyler McCallum, in a news release announcing the project in March 2022. “These improvements will change the utilization of the baseball field completely, allowing usage to expand from just a few months a year to year-round and putting us on the map for future tournaments and events. All of which drives funding to our community and, most importantly, the kids.”

In addition to baseball and softball, Chehalis School Board members said the stadium can also be used for football and soccer practice as well as for physical education classes. 

“The bigger picture on this one, as we have learned as a board, is that there’s many uses and hopefully a lot of great benefits, not just to the facility itself but to the student body as a whole,” said Chehalis School Board member J. Vander Stoep on Tuesday. 

The project was the primary topic of discussion during a work session last week, where several school board members expressed concerns about problems that could arise if the project goes over budget and questioned whether there were other more dire capital projects in need of funding. 

The Chehalis Foundation estimates the drainage overhaul will cost $800,000 total, according to Ed Rothlin, the school district’s facilities director. The $1 million donated to the school district on Tuesday was intended to cover the entire cost of the project, including installing the turf, but “it actually costs more than what we anticipated,” Rothlin said last week. 

The Bearcat Baseball Stadium renovation as a whole is expected to cost $1.3 million. 

“I think it’s important that the community know that we’re doing our due diligence and asking these things and getting answers to a place that we’re comfortable, and I feel like I came into it kind of a little bit apprehensive, but after getting all the data and facts and that sort of thing, I feel a lot more comfortable with this project,” school board member Kelsi Hamilton said on Tuesday. 

At the request of Colleen State, also a school board member, Tuesday’s motion was amended to specify that the $300,000 of the Chehalis School District’s capital fund is only for the first phase of the project. If the second phase of the project goes over budget, the Chehalis Foundation will be responsible for figuring out how to cover that cost. 

“We don’t have another $300,000 commitment to phase two … We’re only committing to phase one monetarily,” State said Tuesday.