High School Football

Football could come to Althoff’s campus sooner than expected

The official dedication of Althoff Catholic High School’s first honest-to-goodness home football field — and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it — will be held Oct. 6 when the Crusaders welcome the Carbondale Terriers.

But barring any unforeseen weather issues or construction glitches, the new stadium could be put into action by Sept. 22 when the Centralia Orphans come to Belleville, Principal Dave Harris said.

“The contract says they have to be done by Sept. 29th, but if everything goes well, we think we can get it in by the 22nd,” Harris said. “If we can get it in, we would love to get in an extra football and soccer game.

“That would be two home games on the new field for each team.”

The FieldTurf playing surface is fully installed, with navy end zones displaying the words “Althoff” and “Crusaders” in 20-foot gold letters. The school’s logo stretches between 40-yard lines at the center of the field, which is lined for both football and soccer.

As of Tuesday, work was continuing on fencing and the portions of the 1,500-seat grandstand on the visitors side. The eight-lane, all-weather track is installed but not yet striped.

In the meantime, workers are awaiting delivery of the press box so that wiring to the scoreboard, 25-second play clock and sound system can be completed.

The new stadium, which is located behind the school, will bring varsity football to the Althoff campus for the first time in the school’s history. Even if it is completed in time for the Sept. 22 football game, dedication ceremonies will be held as originally scheduled on Oct. 6.

Details of those ceremonies have not been released beyond their 6 p.m. start time.

“If we play Sept. 22, obviously, we’ll do something special, but the grand opening and the big ceremonies will go on Oct. 6,” Harris said. “We just can’t predict for absolute certain that it’ll be ready earlier than that.”

The Crusaders previously shared old Township Stadium with Belleville East and West on the campus of what is now Lindenwood University. The construction the new West campus on Frank Scott Parkway and related capital improvements at East included new stadiums at both of the city’s public high schools. Althoff continued to play on Lindenwood’s red-and-gray striped field turf.

In April 2016, Althoff announced its capital campaign to fund Phase I of campus improvements. Phase I cost $2.4 million and includes the stadium surface, track, bleachers and press box.

Phase II will include a permanent concession stand and restroom facilities. Portable toilets will be used in the short term, Harris said. Phase III will include additional facilities for baseball and softball.

“The timeline depends on the capital campaign which is ongoing,” Harris said. “We have some decisions to make about the scope of those facilities in terms of whether we want to go with artificial surface or natural grass fields. It seems like artificial surface is becoming a new standard, but there’s obviously additional expense in it.

“We don’t want to get two years down the road and wish we’d have gone a different way, so we are being careful about weighing all the options.” 

Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman

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