FINALLY! After nearly two years the stadium is complete
LE MARS — After many years of planning followed by construction, the upgrades to Le Mars Community Stadium are finally complete. The final stage of the project was putting the final layer of the track surface down and getting the lines painted which wrapped up the first week in September with the track now open to the public.
Le Mars Community Superintendent Dr. Steve Webner said it’s great to finally have the project completed.
“From planning to completion, we have been working on this project for over four years, and it is exciting for the students and community to be able to utilize the entire stadium,” Webner said.
Webner wasn’t even superintendent yet when the first stages of planning were started. Then Supt. Dr. Todd Wendt, two LCS school board members, LCSD Foundation members, athletic boosters and other athletic representatives first met with designers from Cannon Moss Brygger and Associates following board approval in 2015 to prepare a preliminary design and cost estimates.
It was in 2017 when the initial designs were presented and L&L Builders of Sioux City was chosen as the general contractor for the project with a low bid of $4,629,000 at an April 2018 school board meeting.
Rainy weather in 2019 caused construction delays. The project was scheduled to have been completed by the start of the 2019 football season, but Le Mars Community and Gehlen had to move games as the field was not ready for use until midseason. The track portion still wasn’t completed at that point and disruptions due to COVID-19 delayed the completion of that portion of the project well into 2020. In the end, the project was completed 13 months after its scheduled finish date. Webner said there were some lessons to be learned from this project.
“There are many lessons learned when tackling a project of this magnitude,” Webner said. “The most important lesson is to continue moving forward to improve your current situation. We had setbacks; however, I appreciate the Board’s foresight and resilience throughout this project.”
The project was kickstarted by an anonymous $2 million donation. Webner explained that the renovation should be paid off by 2023.
“We are utilizing a revenue bond in which we have made two payments,” Webner said. “We have six more payments equating to $4,048,612.50, to be paid off on July 1, 2023. We were fortunate to have so many generous donors who provide a total of $2,662,636 in pledged donations to support this project.”
The stadium was originally opened by Westmar College in 1959. The LCS district purchased the property in 1983. The first asphalt track was put down in 1987, but one of the issues was lane widths not to standard regulation. The natural playing surface for football would also get worn down from alternating home games between Le Mars and Gehlen each Friday night along with non-varsity contests and other activities such as marching band. The pending addition of a soccer program also factored into the decision for obtaining an artificial turf field.
Other upgrades to the facility include a new grandstand and press box with 200 stadium-style seats along with a capacity of about 2,000 of bleacher seating. The area under the grandstand includes team rooms and storage areas. Another upgrade was a new video board. The ticket booth, concession stand and restroom area at the northeast corner of the complex were upgraded before this project with the new features incorporating those into the complex.
Webner said the facility is a great showcase for the community.
“This stadium is a great asset to the students and community of Le Mars,” Webner said. “Any time you improve your facilities within your community, it serves not only to serve the people in a better fashion, but also serves as a draw for people to move to the community; an economic development tool. The goal was to build a ‘showcase stadium’ and I believe that has been accomplished.”
This is the latest in a string of athletic venue upgrades for the school district. In 2012, the new competition gymnasium was completed with that project including the 2,000-seat gym, restrooms, concession stand, spirit shop and an expanded lobby area. Next on the list is upgrades to the baseball/softball complex which saw bids awarded last week. Webner explained the focus on these upgrades.
“The Board of Education developed a 10-year facility plan based on needs throughout the district,” Webner said. “The Board identified the need to improve our facilities because of their decreasing functionality, and in some cases, their structural characteristics. The Board’s goal has been to provide the best possible facilities for the student of Le Mars Community Schools.”
With the stadium project now officially complete, Webner said he’s grateful for everyone who helped in any way from start to finish.
“The Le Mars Community School District would like to thank everyone who supported the project with their time, gifts, and talents,” Webner said. “This was truly a community project in which many took part. We live in a great community with great support for our students.”