Athletic complex goes to boardThe play for a new athletic complex at Superior High School may score this time. Plans unveiled include an artificial turf football field surrounded by a running track with bleacher seating for 3,000, a baseball facility with an artificial turf infield and more.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The play for a new athletic complex at Superior High School may score this time. Plans unveiled include an artificial turf football field surrounded by a running track with bleacher seating for 3,000, a baseball facility with an artificial turf infield and more situated behind the high school.
The estimated $4 million price tag for the yet-unnamed project would come from school district funds earmarked for capital improvement projects.
“It’s not going to cost taxpayers a dime,” said Rich Reder, president of Northwest Beverages and member of the committee proposing the project.
“This is a very good example of ‘things happen at the right time for the right reason,’” said Dave Minor, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, who also serves on the committee.
The idea of a Spartan football field isn’t new — it’s been around for more than two decades. Committees would form, but plans grew too pricey, partnerships failed to materialize or funding wasn’t available. The most recent team formed about nine months ago, led by School Board President Len Albrecht. He estimated it was his fourth attempt to pitch a plan.
“Two years ago, I got permission from the board to look into this kind of facility,” he said. “I just didn’t let it die.” In part, his drive was due to the poor condition of fields athletes have to play on. He also pointed out the money the district could save when it doesn’t have to rent fields for practice and play.
“It’s just something I felt we needed on our campus. How many other Division I schools do not have their own football field on the property?” Albrecht asked. “It’s way overdue.”
Over the past few years, new athletic facilities have sprung up in Rice Lake, Chippewa Falls and Maple. Steve Salisbury, athletic director for Rice Lake High School, said the athletic complex is the best facility improvement, he’s seen in his entire career.
“It’s remarkable,” he said. When Salisbury gets to school in the morning, community members are already walking and running on the track. Thursday afternoon, about 100 students were using the field for physical education classes. Spring athletic practices start weeks earlier each year due to the turf fields and a number of annual events take place at the complex.
There were naysayers when a committee formed to raise funds for the complex, Salisbury said. “We don’t hear that now,” he said.
Show me the money
About $2.8 million for the project would come from Fund 41, established in the early 1980s when the school district separated from the city. At that time, the School Board invested funds received from the city. By the time the investment matured in 2004 and 2005, the amount was $6.4 million. School Board members passed a resolution to ensure the principle would remain untouched, and interest from the fund could only be used for capital projects and technology upgrades.
“We want to make sure people know we are using the fund as it was intended to be used,” said Superintendent Janna Stevens. Members of the committee looking into a new athletic facility in Superior applauded the foresight of former School Board members in setting aside funds strictly for capital improvements.
“I’m not aware of any other district in the state of Wisconsin that his this available,” said business manager Jack Amadio. “We’re certainly unique in that aspect.”
If approved, this would mark the first time Fund 41 interest would be used by the district, Amadio said. Other projects the funds could be used for include things like technology infrastructure, emergency roof replacement or other capital improvements.
Additional funding for the project would come from the old building fund, money accumulated from the sale of old equipment and buildings. The cost for upkeep of the new facility would be fairly close to the amount the district pays now to use other fields for sporting events, Stevens said.
The Board votes on the building project during the 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting at school district administration offices, 3025 Tower Ave.
If the project is approved, planners said, construction would start in the spring and the fields could be ready by fall 2014.
Then, Reder said, the real work would begin. A new athletic complex will provide opportunities for local businesses and individuals to leave a lasting mark through memorials, plaques, engraved seats and more.
“This is a one-time golden opportunity,” Minor said, and a way to support area youth. Reder got the ball rolling Monday when he gave the district a $25,000 check for the project, money raised through a golf tournament in honor of his father. Another $40,000 collected by Larry Hoff during bike and paddling treks in 2004 and 2006 and earmarked for a future athletic complex will be used for site work.
Any money donated to the School Board for the project would be tax deductible, Amadio said.