The $20 million, new stadium complex at Carroll High School was worth the wait for Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel, his staff, the school board and construction agents.
The old one had lasted more than 50 years, built when the school was much smaller, Himsel said. A series of site improvements were unveiled at the 42-acre complex Thursday at a ribbon-cutting, held at the main ticket booth entrance that rivals the one downtown at Parkview Field.
A public open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. today.
Fans at the first home football game on Aug. 20 will overlook a parking lot just outside the gates where the former stadium stood. Everything is brown brick with Chargers blue trim, outlined in white.
Thursday, about 40 people took a tour around the facility that includes a 92-foot state-of-the-art press box with elevator access and expanded capacity for more than 5,000 seats on the home side and more than 2,000 on the visitors side, according to information provided by NACS spokeswoman Lizette Downey.
Himsel said when he and others started looking into constructing a new stadium, they found plans from 1995.
“We just elaborated on them,” he said.
New stadium lighting provides “a clear view of the field for play reviews” and a nine-lane track constructed with a water-impermeable surface that will resist cracking and won't need much maintenance.
Something new and unexpected is the game day store filled with Carroll T-shirts, hoodie sweatshirts and other memorabilia, a feature unique in Indiana, Downey said.
The store is part of the concession area with five service windows to accommodate the many visitors expected at the Class 6A high school, a nod to its student body size at about 2,500, Himsel said. With the new facility, Carroll can now host the Challenge of Bands competition Sept. 25.
It won't just be football games where fans won't have to worry about shaky aluminum bleachers of yesteryear, but soccer and marching band fans, too, the information said. Athletes will get into their gear at a new, separate locker room building with a laundry area.
“This was a lot more than site improvements,” Larry Weigand, CEO of Weigand Construction, the project's leader, said at the ribbon-cutting Thursday.
Pressed for comparison, Weigand and Chris Sosebee, Weigand's director of business development, said the firm has worked on other school athletic facilities, including Indiana Wesleyan University, Grace College, Andrews University, Hillsdale College and the University of Notre Dame.
All comparisons were collegiate and track a trend in high school stadium facilities, some that can be compared to small to midsize colleges, Weigand said.
The project is being financed through new debt replacing older debt that was paid off, Downey said.
• Main Gate entrance includes three new ticket booths, six ticket windows and three lighted arched signs at three entrance gates
• Home concessions stand includes a 7,200-square-foot building that includes concessions, storage, restrooms and game day store
• Home bleachers/press box has a 900-square-foot press box with capacity for 139 people inside and 50 people on top platform
• Athletic practice fields feature two newly seeded grass practice fields with new fence and two new discus pads and nets
• Players' locker room is a 10,000-square-foot building including locker rooms, laundry room, coaches offices and trainer room and 325 new lockers
• Renovated soccer facilities have two new soccer dugouts, new bleachers with a capacity of 904 people and press box
• Marching band practice field has new asphalt band practice field striped with football field yard markers, new stadium light poles and a new 35-foot-tall band tower
• New parking lot includes 495 new parking spaces and new bus drive installed near tennis courts to improve bus traffic flow
• Ongoing baseball/softball facility updates feature new ticket booths and arched signs at baseball and softball fields, new batting cages and updates to field buildings and dugouts
Source: Northwest Allen County Schools