By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
The State Board of Education approved construction of Boise State's Dona Larsen Park on Friday by a 7-1 vote.
Stacy Pearson, Boise State's vice president for finance and administration, immediately e-mailed interim athletic director Curt Apsey.
"Start digging," she wrote.
Construction at the former East Junior High site is expected to begin this month. The $6 million project is scheduled for completion in time for the 2012 high school football season.
Dona Larsen Park will include track facilities for Boise State and a high school football stadium for the Boise School District. It also could include a new Boise State softball stadium.
The board had declined Boise State's request in August over concerns for pedestrian safety. Those concerns were mollified by a detailed presentation from Boise State and the Boise School District. However, the board continued to raise concerns about whether Boise State or the Boise School District would be legally responsible for any incidents at the events. The motion to approve construction included a stipulation that Boise State enter into a use agreement with the school district that puts all responsibility on the school district.
Boise State now turns its focus to the new football office and training complex in the north end zone of Bronco Stadium. The school plans to ask for construction approval this fall, ask for financing approval in February and begin construction in March. That project is scheduled for completion in summer 2013. The track in Bronco Stadium will be unusable as soon as construction begins, so Boise State's track teams will need a temporary home for the spring.
The Dona Larsen Park motion passed the board by a 7-1 vote. Bill Goesling of Moscow dissented after raising concerns about the part of the motion that requires the Boise School District to take all responsibility for its events at the facility. The school district wasn't represented by legal counsel at the meeting.
The project will be paid for with donations that already have been secured.
I met with Apsey today for a Q&A story that will appear in Sunday's paper. I asked him about the eligibility issues surrounding the three Boise State football players from Amsterdam — safety Cedric Febis, wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn and defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe.
Apsey said the school is still in a fact-finding mode — the issue involved was recently raised — and hasn't reached a conclusion.
"We're still doing the research and doing all we can to ... figure it out," Apsey said, "but up to this point we're still sitting in the same position we were a week ago."
The three players were held out of the season opener against Georgia.