By RITA DUCKWORTH
Althoff Catholic High School’s sports teams haven’t been able to claim a home field advantage for more than 50 years. “Home” games for the varsity Crusaders are played at Lindenwood University, Whitey Herzog Field, McKendree University, and other venues in the region. Meanwhile, the Belleville school’s outdated and well-worn facility is used for gym class, band practice and a few underclassman sports.
EWR Architects are setting out to remedy that.
“Althoff’s old cinder track, football, softball and baseball fields don’t meet current IHSA (Illinois High School Association) standards” says Project Manager Brian Wheeler, AIA. With the help of a capital campaign dubbed “Igniting the Future Together,” the school is planning a state-of-the-art facility that will be a source of pride for students, parents and alumni. EWR’s president Bill Reichert, AIA, is himself an alumnus, so the project is especially dear to him.
EWR’s plan features a multipurpose synthetic football/soccer field surrounded by a synthetic surface track, a softball field and a baseball field, each with two dugouts. A new building will hold restrooms, concessions, and maintenance equipment. Ticket booths will be built on either end of the complex, the east booth including a new entry gateway.
“The basic footprint of the 12-acre site is the same,” says Wheeler. “The field and track overlay their existing location. The ball fields will be reoriented to fit the site better.” The new design creates a central “plaza” situated between them. Everything will be slightly larger to reflect current IHSA rules.
“For regulation size fields, we need to slightly alter the existing tree line and grade the terrain. We’ve done our best to maintain the wooded area while meeting the rules and being as economical as possible.”
The goal is to play a football game on the new field in August 2017. “It’s a high goal,” says Wheeler, “but there’s a great team in place to meet it.”