Nearly a year after voters in the Kingston City School District approved a transfer of the district’s half-ownership of Dietz Stadium to the City of Kingston, that transfer may finally be imminent.
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble and schools Superintendent Paul Padalino both expressed confidence this week that the two parties are approaching the finish line.
“We have been working with the superintendent and his legal team to craft a memorandum of agreement, if you will, that kind of lays out usage of the stadium and the school district’s contribution,” said Noble. “We’ve had a longstanding existing agreement, but we want to be able to update it to include the actual transfer of the deed.”
Dietz Stadium opened in 1949, and four decades later the KCSD bought half of the facility for $10 in exchange for sharing in its expenses. Though most often used by the Kingston Tigers for everything from football to lacrosse to track and field, the grounds have gained recent fame as the home of Kingston Stockade FC, a successful semi-pro soccer team about to begin its fourth season calling Dietz its home.
“I think we’re probably a couple of weeks away,” said Padalino, adding that he hoped matter would be settled ahead of April 24’s school board meeting. “It’s been back and forth with our attorneys. We sent a draft proposal for the people at the city to look at. The mayor sent me back some comments, I sent it to our attorney, she sent it back to me yesterday.”
At the heart of the transfer is around $2.5 million in grant funding to renovate and improve Dietz Stadium. Renovating the aging stadium and its iconic stands has been discussed by district officials over the years, but as with the city, the school district found it could not easily receive funding for a facility it co-owns. Giving up their half of the stadium became the obvious choice said Padalino when it became clear that the renovations could be covered by a portion of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant the city got last year from Albany.
Until the transfer is complete, the city can’t take the first steps toward renovating Dietz.
“Our goal is to get that done officially so we can get moving with some of our plans,” said Noble. “We are getting ready to start the process with New York State to receive the $2.5 million. We got copies of the draft contracts last week.”
he district has maintained all along that it would only agree to a deal which wouldn’t negatively impact its use of Dietz Stadium for athletics and other events. Padalino said that has never been an issue in negotiations with the city.
“The mayor and I are on the same page,” Padalino said. “This was done out of necessity. The only way to get any money for the stadium for repairs and upgrades, which it desperately needs, is through this grant that the city was able to obtain. In my opinion it benefits everyone. We’re able to use it as we always did. We’ll pay a lease payment to the stadium about the equivalent of what we’ve always paid, and they’ll get the repairs and improvements done.”
Noble said that once it retains full ownership of Dietz Stadium, the city would begin its search for a design and engineering firm to help move the project forward.
“We’ve been working on it for quite some time now,” Noble said. “I’m ready to get it done.”
“We’ll have a 21st century facility there instead of a late-19th century facility, which is what it is now,” he said.