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Sports facilities are taking shape at the new high school

A photo from the school building shows how far along one of the softball fields is. The structure of the dugouts is complete with the dirt on the infield. School officials are hoping to be ready to move into the new school facility on June 30, 2014. Once there, almost all of the athletic events will be at one site instead of spread around town. (Echo Press photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 2
School board chairman Dean Anderson (right) stands with an architect at what will be center court of the primary gym at the new school. (Echo Press photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 2

Alexandria athletes and sports fans are anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Alexandria High School that will give those involved in athletics an entirely different experience in the fall of 2014.

Project manager Jason Rentmeester gave Alexandria school board members and reporters from the Echo Press a tour of the entire high school construction site this past Monday. While many students and parents had to drive across town for practices and games, this will change when the construction is completed next year.

Activities Director David Hartmann said construction is on track to move into the new building around June 30, 2014. With two new gymnasiums, 12 tennis courts, two baseball fields, four softball fields and a turf football stadium with a nine-lane track, sports fans wishing to view multiple events will no longer have to travel as often to different locations around Alexandria.

"I think the big thing will be having everything on site," said Hartmann.

On a given day this fall, Cardinal athletes could be playing at Lakes Area Recreation, Lincoln Elementary, Discovery Middle School and Jefferson High School.

Travel will be significantly reduced in 2014 when nearly all the facilities for practices and home games will be located at the new school.

"If I am a fan, I have kids in multiple activities, I can just walk to the different activities that are going on," said Hartmann.

The varsity baseball team will likely continue to use Knute Nelson Ballpark.

Jefferson High School Principal Chad Duwenhoegger stressed that the high school's new athletics facilities will also be a place where students can learn more about a healthy lifestyle.

"It's a great space for our curriculum as well," he said.

The facilities will host many of the school's physical education classes, and the new fitness room will have more cardiovascular machines available than at Jefferson.

"It's progressing well and it's going to be a great place for our kids to learn and grow as healthy individuals," said Duwenhoegger

GYMNASIUM

The new school's gymnasium allows for two basketball games to take place at the same time. When the gymnasium is set up for two games, the first court will have seating for 1,000 people and the second will have room for 150.

The gymnasium has enough seating for 1,000 on each side when set up for one larger game.

There will also be a second smaller gymnasium in the school. This auxiliary gymnasium will have seating for 600 people.

"We literally could have a basketball game and a wrestling match going on at the same time," said Hartmann.

FOOTBALL STADIUM

The new Alexandria high school football stadium will be able to seat more spectators than Citizens Field and will have an artificial turf playing surface. A nine-lane track will also be installed around the field.

The football stadium will seat 2,500 spectators on the west side of the field and 1,000 on the east side. With a capacity of 3,500 people, the new stadium will hold about 900 more fans than Citizens Field. There is also an option to bring in more seats for large events.

"We will have the ability to bring in more seating if we need to for a state tournament playoff game or something like that," said Hartmann.

The school is also planning to move the press box, lights, east bleachers and scoreboard from Citizens Field to the grounds of the new high school. This will give Alexandria another venue for lower level football and soccer games.

"We'll have a second lit field that frankly will be comparable to 50 percent of fields in the state of Minnesota," said Hartmann.

WEIGHT FACILITY

The new weight room will be nearly twice the size of the current one at Jefferson. The new weight room will be 6,000 square feet while the one used at Jefferson is 3,500 square feet.

The new weight room will have multiple zones for specialized training. The zones will include cardiovascular equipment, plyometric boxes, a turf area for throwing and running work, racks of stations for squats and bench exercises, and speed treadmills and jump machines.

"We think in the new fitness room we can handle 110, 120 kids at one time," said Hartmann.

LOOKING AHEAD

With the new facility opening in 2014, the high school staff plans to use most of next summer to move in and make sure everything works. Hartmann hopes the new facilities will bring major state and section level sporting events to the area.

"I think we're going to become a central site and a hub for lots of major events in the area, where we'll be bringing lots of people to town," he said.

The school also hopes that the facilities will be a gathering area for many community events.

"We're really excited about it," said Hartmann. "We've had tremendous community input and support."

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

(715) 273-4334
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