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SHS complex in high demand

Athletes warm up Thursday morning for the Bigger, Faster, Stronger summer work-out program at Superior High School. The fNBC Spartan Sports Complex will look a little different next week when 36 teams participate in Minnesota Duluth’s high school football camp. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

When the NBC Spartan Sports Complex was still under construction at Superior High School in 2014, school district officials had visions of what they hoped it would become.

Activities director Ray Kosey saw a future where teams throughout the region would vie for time on the artificial turf fields. It would be a facility not just for SHS, he believed, but for the community at large.

Today, that vision seems to have become reality.

In recent weeks, the fields have hosted youth teams; the summer school Bigger, Faster, Stronger program; the North Shore Grizzlies football team; and even local baseball teams for the Minnesota State High School League playoffs. The MSHSL reserved the baseball field at the complex for nine hours at a time May 30, June 1, 6 and 8.

In July, the American Cancer Society will hold its Relay for Life at the venue, and Grandma’s Marathon has booked the complex for a Wednesday Night at the Races event in August.

“I am thrilled that the fields on the NBC Spartan Sports Complex are in such high demand,” said Janna Stevens, Superior school district administrator. “When we built the original portion of the complex, we believed many programs would be calling to rent the turf field. With the weather we have in the north, turf fields are a gem.

“In addition, the staff charged with renting and maintaining the field are second to none. Outstanding customer service goes a long way.”

The school district charges $125 per hour to rent a field — and bathrooms — for practices and $175 per hour for games. The game fee includes the use of the public announcement system, scoreboard and concessions stand, but there is an additional charge for lights.

Revenue from the rental fees goes into a maintenance fund for upkeep of the sports complex.

“It’s definitely been a draw for our school and our community,” Kosey said. “Everybody that uses it just loves it.”

On Wednesday, the three artificial turf fields were in use from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with seven different groups signed up to utilize them. Six more groups signed up to use the fields Thursday, and three are scheduled to use them today.

“It’s getting busier and busier,” Kosey said. “I knew it would be used; now we almost can’t meet everybody’s needs.”

Beginning Monday, the sports complex will become busier still.

The University of Minnesota Duluth football program will be in town to host its annual Bulldogs Football High School Team Camp.

Two camp sessions will be held over the next two weeks, each running Monday through Wednesday at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex and the grass fields on 28th Street.

“It’s a really good partnership with us and the school district,” said John Steger, defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs. “We appreciate them allowing us to use the space.”

Steger said the Bulldogs reached out to Superior about a month ago in search of a venue for the high school team camps. UMD is unable to host this year because the track at Malosky Stadium is being replaced.

The substitute space needed to be large enough to accommodate the nearly 1,000 football players expected to participate in the two camp sessions, and Superior quickly came to mind.

“It was really option No. 1,” Steger said. “I’ve been to many high school games there to watch Superior play, so I knew it well. It is a state-of-the-art setup.”

Camp participants will be housed in UW-Superior dorms during each three-day session, and they will play on the three artificial turf fields at the sports complex and the three grass fields on 28th Street.

Kosey said campers will also have access to the high school cafeteria, despite ongoing construction.

“I talked to (construction manager) Kraus-Anderson, and there will be no issues,” Kosey said. “Safety is always our first concern, and we’ll have a safe route to the cafeteria.”

The first camp session runs June 19-21, and the second runs June 26-28. Both Superior and Northwestern are signed up for the second session. There are 14 teams scheduled for the first session and 22 scheduled for the second.

“Lots are Minnesota schools, so they haven’t necessarily been over to the (Superior) setup,” Steger said.

He expects those unfamiliar with the complex, however, to leave impressed.

“When we added the softball and tennis courts, we knew we would be getting even more calls,” Stevens said. “Our vision to have the NBC Spartan Sports Complex become a community-use facility has actualized.”

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