District funding $1.2 million in upgrades
By Scott Bellile
The Hortonville School Board approved a 20-year naming rights agreement for Akin Field and project bids for a partial athletic complex renovation set to begin next year.
The items were passed unanimously by the seven-member school board that approved the items at a Nov. 27 meeting.
“The whole project is just very, very exciting [because of] the new opportunities it’s going to bring not only for our athletes but for all students,” Hortonville High School Principal Thomas Ellenbecker said of Akin Field on Friday, Dec. 1. “One could argue it’s probably our largest classroom that the district has to offer and it’s really going to offer multiple groups to use and access that facility all throughout the day and all throughout the year.”
Hortonville Area School District will fund $1.2 million in improvements, according to a bidding summary produced by architectural firm Blue Design Group.
“What is on schedule for being [started] this spring, maybe some prep work this winter, would be the playing surface, the lights, the scoreboard, the draining issue on the north end of the field and the storage building,” HASD Superintendent Todd Timm told the Press Star.
All of those upgrades except the storage building will be funded by HASD. The storage building will be covered by approximately $180,000 in donations.
• The football and soccer field will be replaced with artificial turf, a surface that many of HHS’s conference rivals already have. The turf will also provide a daily practice space for the marching band in the fall. The current grass field cannot handle the wear and tear of daily marching band practices.
• The stadium lights date back to the 1960s. They will be replaced with LED structures.
• The scoreboard has electrical panels that cannot be replaced so a new basic scoreboard will be installed. Down the road, donor funds would be used to upgrade to a video scoreboard. Besides offering visual experiences, the video scoreboard would provide HHS advertising opportunities.
• The drainage repairs will stop water from pooling on the north side of the field. In the spring the track and field jumping pits get flooded.
• The storage building will house track and field equipment as well as offer a small medical room and a place for the home team to meet with the coach during halftime.
Timm said nonessential upgrades that may be donor-funded later, if the money comes in, include additional bleachers, a renovated concessions and restroom facility, a redesigned front plaza and a new press box on the home side.
HHS hopes to break ground on the donor-funded items in late 2018 or 2019, depending on when the money is raised, Timm said.
In total, including the donor-funded portions, the project is expected to cost $3.5 million. Businesses or individuals willing to contribute can call HHS at 920-779-7933.
Wolf River Community Bank bought the naming rights to Akin Field for the next 20 years.
According to the partnership agreement, HASD will receive a total of $200,000 from the deal. The arrangement started Friday, Dec. 1, and lasts through Nov. 30, 2037.
Per the agreement, the words “Wolf River Community Bank Stadium, Home of Akin Field” will be displayed on the new scoreboard.
The name will also be displayed on a large format sign near the concessions building until a brand new donor-funded entrance gate is installed, at which point the name will be affixed on the gate.
The bank will also get its logo displayed on the digital scoreboard in the gymnasium and, someday, the stadium’s digital scoreboard. Announcers will say the bank’s name twice per game.
In a statement HASD released Nov. 26, Timm said Wolf River Community Bank is a supporter of the district’s Grants for Excellence Program, DECA program and the HHS personal finance classes’ Reality Check simulation. He thanked the bank for a “substantial” contribution that will “provide students with state-of-the-art facilities and experiences.”
Wolf River Community Bank President Joe Peikert told the Press Star the bank has had a strong relationship with HASD for years.
“We have a limited-hours branch in the school and we work with the schools very closely on a whole list of items and projects. [We do] Junior Achievement and classroom speakers. We do bank tours for the elementary kids,” Peikert said. “And [sponsoring Akin Field] just seems like a natural extension of the partnership we have with the school, seeing that we’re a community bank and all about community.”