For the first time in almost 20 years, student athletes in the Altoona School District will be able to hone their skills on a functioning track. They’ll also be able to use a new synthetic turf field for football and soccer, and enjoy new facilities for high jump, pole vault, long/triple jump, shot put, and discus.
Up to 2,000 spectators will be able to cheer on these athletes from new bleachers while enjoying a new entrance and ticketing area, new concessions facilities, and new restrooms. All of this will be part of Altoona High School’s new sports complex, where construction began this spring after a $75,000 donation from Prevea Health enabled the school district to reach its $1 million fundraising goal.
“Until now, our students have had to practice wherever we could find space, and we have not been able to host our own meets,” said Altoona School District Business Manager Michael Markgren, an original member of the complex planning committee and the main contact for sponsor procurement. “Now, along with our own events, Altoona will be able to host playoff football and soccer games and track meets. This will bring economic stimulus to the Chippewa Valley – and beyond that, smaller area districts can look forward to making it to the ‘big city’ for playoffs.”
The district is not only celebrating its fundraising goal, but the fact that many of the details they prioritized will be realized. For instance, the football and soccer field will feature a longer-lasting bi-filament synthetic turf as well as a “shock pad” base layer for greater concussion prevention. The sound system will be greatly improved, and for the first time, spectators and students will have restrooms to use. According to Markgren, none of these improvements will impact taxes.
“It was important to us that taxes not be increased to build the complex,” Markgren said. “We set a board resolution that $1 million of the project cost would come through partnering sponsors, and the whole project cost of $3.2 million be financed (with) non-referendum debt. Repayment will be a combination of the sponsorship payments and transfers from our general fund.”
The target completion date for the complex is Altoona’s first home football game on Aug. 9. As the project gets underway, the district looks forward to continued community support, without which this project wouldn’t have been possible.
“We have an extremely supportive community,” Markgren said. “This project would not be a reality if it weren’t for the generous commitments of our partners. The athletic complex will continue to make the school district and city of Altoona a destination for those choosing to come to the Chippewa Valley.”
Other sports complex sponsors include Citizens Community Federal Bank, the Altoona Athletic Boosters, the OakLeaf Group, Market & Johnson, the Altoona High School Classes of 2017 and 2018, Altoona Youth Softball & Baseball, and the Altoona VFW Post 10. More details on the project can be found online at www.altoona.k12.wi.us/district/ath_complex.cfm.