Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville announced a capital campaign aimed at constructing new outdoor athletic facilities that would give all teams an on-campus home for the first time. Renovation of existing library space into a math and science lab also is included in the plan.
The campaign was announced during a gala held Saturday at the Four Points Sheraton in Fairview Heights under the banner “Igniting the Future Together.” It will formally launch this fall with a fundraising goal of $2.5 million, said Andy Blassie, one of eight identified as campaign co-chairs. If it meets its goal, Althoff Catholic High School Principal Dave Harris says the school can expect the new athletic complex and student lab to be completed by the 2017-2018 school year.
The Althoff Crusaders football team long shared the former Township Stadium at the Belleville West campus with teams from the city’s two public high schools. The agreement to use that field continued even as Lindenwood University-Belleville assumed ownership and both West and East built new on-campus stadiums.
As currently budgeted, the athletic complex would include a multi-use artificial turf field, eight-lane all-weather running track and bleachers for about 1,500 spectators. That portion of the project is estimated at $1.7 million, said Blassie, plus an additional $300,000 for a concession stand and restroom.
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The complex would be located behind the school in the footprint of the current field which is limited to use for practice and junior varsity sports.
“With the athletic complex, it’s bringing our students home,” Harris explained. “We’ve been playing our football games off site forever. We also do our soccer games off site. We don’t really do track here — it’s hard for us to practice track here with what we have out there right now.”
An additional $300,000 will be used toward construction of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab which, according to a press release from the school, will “give students the opportunity to understand the 21st century workforce skills at an earlier age” and prepare them better for college. Harris said Monday that the lab would also include a broadcast communications lab for students.
He says the plan is to renovate and replace the school’s existing library to create a STEM lab as well as a broadcast communications lab. Though the school would be without a library, Harris explains that students will be able to access textbooks and other books on their own iPads for academic purposes.
Money raised above the $2.5 million goal likely would be used to improve the existing baseball and softball fields, Blassie said.
A feasibility study contracted through Cosgriff Company of Grimes, Iowa, helped in planning the scope of the project as well as fundraising goals. The project and campaign received the blessing of Bishop Edward Braxton as well, Blassie said.
Braxton could not be reached for comment.
Others involved in leading the campaign include Blassie’s wife, Joanne, Mike and Patty Guignon, Mike and Susie Riley and Brad and Julie Ringhofer. Glenn Schott, the long-time Crusader football coach and multiple state champion, and his wife, Pat, were appointed honorary chairmen.
“We would love the support of the community here in Belleville and in the surrounding areas and through the diocese and all of their support in us doing this,” Harris said. “We’re looking forward to this next year and for the following year for these great features to be added to our school.”