LE MARS, Iowa | The work is proceeding well, so an expansive modernization of the Le Mars School District athletics field will be ready for football games in the 2019 season now six months away.
In January, key benefactors who devoted nearly half the money for the $4.6 million project were named for the first time. During a Le Mars High School basketball game, Cheryl and Mike Wells were honored for their $2 million donation, Superintendent Steve Webner said.
"We are so grateful for their contribution, as well as the others who are contributing to this project," Webner said.
People in Le Mars have wanted to renovate the aging sports complex, which was built in 1959, just south of the high school grounds at 921 Third Ave. S.W. The school board in early 2018 approved plans for the project, which has been called a "showcase stadium."
Plans include replacing the existing grass football field with artificial turf, installing a new track and modernizing grandstand bleachers. Work also involves a new scoreboard, press box, lighting, visitors' bleachers and fencing.
Webner noted the plans got wide input, using collaboration of school personnel, the school foundation and community members. He said once the construction contract was set, expenses that followed have come in line with projected costs.
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The work began right after the 2019 football season ended in October.
The timing of the project means no track meets can be held this spring, but those will return in 2020. Webner noted the last football game on a grass field has been held, as the new turf will be synthetic, as Le Mars joins the trend of those styles of fields in Siouxland.
"We are very excited about this project," Webner said.
"We are receiving a lot of support from the community and the businesses within Le Mars. This new stadium will serve as a great facility for students, community, as well as an economic development tool for the community of Le Mars."
The project is financed by a $2 million donation from the Le Mars Community School Foundation and from a school district fund filled with revenue from the one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure. The Wells family in 2017 anonymously gave $2 million to the foundation to boost the possibility of the project, and other fundraising has since continued.