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New stadium in the works for De Pere High School

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – Preliminary sketches for a $3.06-million upgrade to the De Pere Redbirds Stadium at the high school were unveiled at the Dec. 9 school board meeting.

Rettler Corp. of Stevens Point, which designed athletic facilities for St. Norbert College, Ashwaubenon High School, Bay Port High School and Lawrence University, presented designs and details.

Rettler project manager Mike Helmrick showed the board plans for new home-side grandstand, improved press box, visitors side seating, areas for track and field events, and LED lighting.

The grandstand would be closer to the track than it is now in the current stadium, which would be torn down and the upgraded one built from scratch.

A standing-room-only deck would provide about 130 square feet of standing area for small groups.

The home-side bleachers would accommodate two wheelchairs, plus a companion seat for each.

Storage below both home and visitors section bleachers could store track and field equipment, with access granted via overhead doors on the back of the bleachers.

The board asked about fundraising options.

Helmrick said Marshfield sold honorary plaques and other schools have dedicated masonry columns which can be sponsored.

The initial plans called for bleachers to accommodate 2,500 people on the home side, but Superintendent Ben Villarruel’s suggestion of starting with 2,000 seats with the option of adding more later seemed well-received.

The move would save about $250,000.

Villarruel said the district is wrestling with balancing other needs and he would prefer it not borrow, but use existing savings to fund the project.

The current home-side grandstand seats about 1,200.

Another suggestion was to combine the visitors stands and home-side bleachers on the same side, but that configuration would run too close to the concession stands and result in bleacher seats with less than stellar visibility because they would not be centered.

Plans for the visitors-side grandstand include seating for 500.

Board member Jeff Mirkes said he felt the plan was well-thought out and the project shouldn’t be placed on hold.

“The time is now,” he said. “This could be something the whole community could be proud of and something that visitors would be impressed by. There’s no reason to wait.”

However, Mirkes wasn’t impressed with the aesthetics of the proposal.

“I’d rather this not look like a pole building,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be Don Schneider Stadium at St. Norbert College, but a steel building with garage doors looks pretty boring to me.”

The tentative schedule is to get bids out and apply for permits in January and February, go back to the school board with an update in early March, get the site prepared to break ground in mid-May while keeping some areas open for athletes, and to finish the project by the middle of August.

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