Turf, new bleachers planned at Akin Field
By Scott Bellile
Hortonville High School’s athletic complex could soon get a facelift, provided donations pour in to the district to fund the estimated $4.5 million project.
The Hortonville school board approved a contract with architectural company Blue Design Group to redesign Akin Field on Sept. 29. Prior to the board’s meeting, the Public Relations and Long Range Planning Committee gave Hortonville High School athletic/activities director Andy Kolosso authorization to seek donations for the project.
The project would not be funded by tax dollars. Hortonville High School Principal Todd Timm said a community survey taken last year by about 800 people indicated public support for the outdoor facilities improvement, but 66 percent of respondents opposed using referendum dollars.
If the district receives the donations needed, the renovation could begin as soon as summer 2016 and be finished in time to not disrupt fall sports practices, said Steve Romatz, Blue Design Group architect.
Romatz said the project could be broken into separate phases if some of the money were raised by summer but not enough to cover the whole project.
If that were the case, phase one would entail replacing the field’s grass with turf, resurfacing the track and replacing the 48-year-old stadium lighting.
The switch to artificial turf football field would keep Hortonville up with its competition, Romatz said. In Wisconsin three major consultants convert about 30 schools from grass to turf each year, he said.
“There’s real incentives to go to turf. In that regard, maintenance in general is much lower,” Romatz said. “So life expectancy essentially becomes what you make it to become.”
The track was last resurfaced in 2007. Romatz said the track surface is at its life expectancy, and District Administrator Heidi Schmidt said other schools’ track teams said they do not like running at Akin Field because of its condition.
Phase two would be doubling the amount of bleachers and remodeling on the entrance: installing two ticket booths, widening the walkway and expanding the concession stand and restrooms. Work on the entrance could be divided into a phase three is needed.
Under the plan, seating capacity would increase from 1,600 spectators to 3,004 (2,004 seats for the home team and 1,000 seats for visitors). The plan calls for added rise and depth to the bleachers to make seating more spacious and allow for locker rooms and storage beneath the bleachers.
Track and field athletes would receive two-way long jump, triple jump and pole vault lanes. Two-way lanes accommodate athletes on a windy day.
However, the district is not interested in upgrading its eight-lane track to the nine-lane track that the district feels would land the school more tournaments.
“Our track and field events right now are not huge draws for concessions or revenue generators in any real way,” Romatz said. “So there’s nothing leading us to believe that those larger regional meets would do any better for us. They actually cost us money right now in terms of having to put staff out there to supervise.”
Schmidt said the district will provide the public an update on the fundraising at a November school board meeting.
Also at its meeting, the school board unanimously approved a 1.62 percent salary increase for teachers, support staff, administrators and co-curricular staff, in accordance with the consumer price index published by the Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission.
The raise is the maximum those groups can be given since Governor Scott Walker signed Wisconsin Act 10 into law in 2011.