ApprovedBoard votes to move forward with athletic complex
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Activities director Ray Kosey couldn’t hold back his applause Tuesday night when the Superior School Board approved a plan for a new sports complex next to Superior High School.
The complex would include a baseball field, outdoor track and football/soccer field. It is slated to open in autumn of 2014.
“Everybody I talk to just says it’s about time,” Kosey said.
The Board voted unanimously to move forward with the planning process.
The new complex, estimated to cost $4 million, will be financed by money from the district’s Fund 41 and its old building fund.
“There was a vision long ago, and this Board is trying to actualize that vision,” said superintendent Janna Stevens.
“I think it’s a wonderful project,” said Board member John Hendricks. “I think one of the wonderful things … is how it will be paid for and how it won’t be a part of the levy now or in the future.”
Emily Stack, student representative to the Board, said the student body is excited by the prospect of a new football field on the SHS campus.
“I think everyone’s happy about it,” said Stack, a senior. “That’s something I always thought was cool when you’d visit other high schools, so I think that’s really sweet that Superior’s getting it.”
Some seniors have grumbled that they won’t be able to use the new field, but Stack said overall reaction to the project has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I haven’t heard one person say anything negative about it,” Stack said. “Even seniors are like, ‘That is really sweet. I wish we were seniors next year to see it.’ But even they’re excited for it.”
Len Albrecht, Board president, played a pivotal role in the push for a new sports complex.
“Over the past five years, I’ve tried numerous times to get a complex or even just a football field done,” Albrecht said. “I just wanted a chunk of turf to play on. But as time has gone on and interest in that account has gone up, we were able to do more than even I had anticipated.”
As head coach of the girls soccer team, Albrecht has first-hand knowledge of the state of Superior’s playing fields. The current soccer fields are affectionately referred to as “The Swamp.”
When the new sports complex is completed, the girls soccer team will be among the teams making use of the new artificial turf.
“Try enough times and it finally happens,” Albrecht said. “We finally found a way.”
For the Superior School Board, the availability of money set aside for capital projects was critical in the decision to move forward. The fund was set up years ago, but it is just now being used for the first time.
“In the early ’80s we separated from the city, so when we did that they gave us their portion of what we were entitled to have as we became an independent school district,” Stevens said.
The figure amounted to about $1.4 million. The district invested the money and waited for the fund to mature. “Well what happened was, the interest rates at that time were phenomenal. They were approximately 10 percent,” Stevens said. “Literally, that fund was making money hand over fist.”
By the time the fund had matured in 2004, the balance was about $6.4 million. The Superior School Board then approved a resolution that interest from the fund — designated as Fund 41 — would be used only for capital improvements.
Today, the fund has a balance of nearly $10 million, Stevens said. The approximately $3 million earmarked for the new sports complex will be the first use of money from Fund 41 since it was established.
“When that decision was made, those of us who were on the Board thought about what’s the best use for this money; but I don’t think even in our wildest dreams that we (imagined) from 2004 to now that it would grow into something that would really complete our complex,” Mary Klun said.
“It really is exciting to be able to say, ‘You know, somewhere along the line we made some good decisions and this is what’s coming out of it.’”
Four current School Board members voted in favor of the 2004 resolution to set the money aside for capital expenditures: Albrecht, Patrick Dorin, Christina Kintop and Klun.
“I would like to add my congratulations to the prior Boards that made this possible by segregating the money, investing it and then when it came due … passing that resolution to allocate the money for projects like this in the future,” Hendricks said. “I think that was really a gem of a deal, and it showed a lot of foresight.”
An additional $1 million from the old building fund will be utilized for the sports complex.
The district will also be reaching out to the community to raise funds. A segregated fund will be established for money raised for the new sports complex. Donation for the project will be tax deductible.
If everything goes as planned, groundbreaking on the project will begin in the spring, and the complex will open in August 2014.
But spring weather is fickle in Superior. Last year, the city remained snow-covered into May.
If 2014 follows a similar trend, will the Spartans’ new field be ready on time?
“I’m optimistic that we’ll be playing on it sometime next fall,” Albrecht said. “We may have to schedule some of the early football games away. We could always fall back to Ole Haugsrud for a game or two if we had to. There’s options.”
At worst, Superior could surrender its home game and play on the road.
At best, the Spartans could make at appeal to UWS to return to their old home turf — Ole Haugsrud Field.
“Let’s say our field isn’t ready for that game one, we’re thinking UWS would still be an option for us,” Kosey said. “So we have that option of not giving up the home game.”
Kosey said the Spartans will also do their best to work out a schedule that gives them more flexibility at the start of the season.
“It’s going to be a scheduling issue,” Albrecht said. “I know Cumberland — they just finished their field — they had to schedule a couple of their first games away so they could have their first home game on the new turf field.”
Overall, Kosey said he is optimistic that the Spartans will be playing on their new field on time next year.
“Rettler (Corporation) is a great company, and they do this for a living,” he said. “If they feel confident saying we can play on that in early August, I guess I trust them because they know construction and how the process works on that.”
Who gets the field?
“We’ve had a little bit of conversation on that,” Kosey said. “That will be a football field, so we’ll play our freshman, our JV, our varsity football games on there. But we also look at that as being a varsity soccer field too.”
Kosey said varsity soccer games will be played on the field, and the soccer team will get scheduled time for practices on the artificial turf as well.
“Soccer’s going to have to practice on that field, because you can’t go on to a turf field and expect the ball to roll the same way as on grass,” Kosey said. “It’s going to be a football/soccer complex. We want to make sure each program is treated equally on there.”
The current soccer fields will continue to be utilized. One or two of the fields may be turned into full-time practice fields, with both the soccer and football teams utilizing them.
“Those fields will continue to be used, and the community can use them,” Albrecht said.
Before the start of the fall season, Kosey said, the coaches will all sit down together to work out a schedule. “I know our coaches will be able to work this out,” Kosey said.