St. Francis High School has kicked off a campaign to upgrade its athletic complex with a new synthetic turf field, a six-lane, weather-resistent track, bleachers, a press box and a practice and concessions facility, with hopes to break ground in May.
St. Francis graduates Ron and Theresa Kuhn donated an "early Christmas present" of $1 million to put toward the $5 million project, and four other donors donated another $1 million, according to a message from school president Tom Bednar and board chair Phil Kerr on the school's website.
The St. Francis school board has approved the campaign, "Bring it All Back Home," to allow Spartan athletes who routinely leave campus for sports to have a home field, and implement a two-phased capital improvement project relating to the school's fields and facilities.
"As a result of this grass roots effort to bring our fields into the 21st century we find ourselves in the enviable position of determining our communities desire to complete this project," Bednar and Kerr wrote.
Phase one will include construction of Kuhn Memorial Stadium, with synthetic turf, an all-weather track and new bleachers to accommodate about 1,200 people, according to the message. The budget for the first phase is $3.6 million. The Spartan football, soccer, lacrosse and track teams and P.E. classes will use the field and track.
Phase two, with a $1.4 million budget, will include a building with a locker room, concessions, restrooms, a ticket office, storage and a practice area for the dance and wrestling teams.
Bednar told the Daily Herald the school's boosters have discussed improving the football field for 30 years, and requests for a new field became more urgent about three years ago after games moved off-campus due to flooding.
St. Francis was originally built in the late 1950s, Bednar said Friday. The football field was moved in the early 70s and new bleachers were built in the late 80s.
The Spartan football team has played its games at College of DuPage for the last three years and the lacrosse and soccer teams played some on campus, but have moved to multiple fields in the area, he said.
"COD is a great field—great stands and all, but parents and teams haven't felt like it's the same as playing on campus... There's a certain level of itentity and (an) advantage (to) being in your own backyard," he said.
"The "Bring it All Back Home" campaign will enhance the environment and improve the safety for our students who will be able to remain on campus for practices and home contests. These new facilities will keep St. Francis High School competitive with other area schools," Bednar and Kerr wrote.
Bednar and Kerr wrote that they hope to raise enough money by April to break ground in May.