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Bright future for refurbished Pavilion

Better put on your sun glasses.

You’re going to need ’em this winter to watch youth and adult sports in the new and improved Pavilion at the Fairgrounds.

Almost without notice this past month, the interior of the Pavilion has been transformed, top to bottom. The biggest changes? All new real-rubber playing surfaces, and an increase from 21 (feeble) overhead lights to 71 barn-burners.

“The new lights meet the standard of sports organizations for brightness, and for having a broader spectrum,” said Kitsap County Parks & Recreation planner Dennis Oost, who designed the upgrades: lights, floor layout and other improvements.

The new lights, which come closer to “sunlight,” cast no shadows. This is because there are so many, shadows on the playing surface are effectively filled in.

The Pavilion has always been a little under-lit, acquiring the unflattering nickname “The Cave,” said Oost. It was used for high school graduations, local and visiting conventions (such as the upcoming West Sound Wedding Expo 2004) and other events. But, “It stood empty 300 days a year,” he said.

Now, Oost expects local youth and adult sports teams will be clamoring to use the Pavilion — which can be as well lit as a summer’s day, even in the dead of winter.

Upgrades will be completed in a few days, and teams can start calling the Parks Department office to book usage.

A dozen or so workers with Seattle-based company Beresford were laying the last of the half-inch rubber floor Wednesday. Many workers at that point were marking outlines for four high school basketball courts, two collegiate-sized basketball courts, four high school volleyball courts and three tennis courts. Oost said the 43,000 square feet in the Pavilion is the equivalent of an indoor soccer arena.

“I can see it being used now for lots of things,” he said. “You can do practice baseball in here and stay warm and dry.”

Each roll of flooring weighs 800 pounds. Oost couldn’t remember how many rolls were used, but recalled it took three tractor-trailer loads to get it all here.

The old concrete floor was ground down to a perfect level and smoothness. The rubber rolls, about six-foot in diameter, were then rolled out and glued down using contact cement. Oost said the company doing the floor work, Beresford, brought in an expert from Georgia to advise on the project. It’s a critical surface area that must be absolutely level.

“The great thing about natural rubber is that you don’t have the (off-gassing) and fumes from a synthetic,” he said.

Kelly Hart, on-site foreman for Beresford, added that “The last eight Olympics used this surface. The bounce factor will help athletes avoid knee injuries and cramps ... and it lasts forever.”

He said as the rubber ages, it acquires a sheen and actually improves as a playing surface.

The entire make-over cost about $280,000 for the floor, $130,000 for lights, $300,000 to $400,000 for new storage (designed by Bremerton architects Rice Fergus and yet to be built on the north side of the Pavilion.) There was another $10,000 spent on miscellaneous, such as carpeting and paint, and lockers for the showers. Upgrades to the Pavilion, as well as the south end of the Fairgrounds, were paid for by a tax-income disbursement of about $4.8 million from the Public Facilities District (PFD) and another “million dollars kicked in by the county,” Oost said.

Improvements to the south end of the Fairgrounds include a new parking lot/playing field with state-of-the-art drainage, and drainage improvements to make several other playing fields more useful.

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