ALMA CENTER (WQOW)- Alma Center Lincoln student athletes have been playing football and baseball on the same field for decades, and track athletes have been running on cinder, but student athletes will finally be getting some much needed upgrades.
Voters within the School District of Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan approved a referendum Tuesday that includes $3.9 million in funding for a new athletics complex to replace one that is beyond repair.
"The track is slick when it gets wet, we've got it patched all over the place," said Jeremy Hanson, athletic director for Lincoln. "There's standing water because of the patches and the cracks."
"During football last year, I remember there was at least one day of practice where we took off practice so we could set up mole traps," said Isaiah Berndt, a sophomore student athlete.
Those issues will be resolved with a rubberized track, a new sod football field and grandstands to hold up to 500 fans at home events, a fun way to bring locals together that hasn't been an option for some programs in a long time.
"I can't find the last time we hosted a track meet, it's been a decade plus," Hanson said. "I have no doubt that our fan participation will increase in both track and football as a result of this."
"We felt a big part of this was keeping our communities viable," said Paul Fischer, superintendent of the school district of Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan. "What keeps people together in our communities? It's our Friday night football games, our basketball games, volleyball games, it's our sports."
Student athletes Weston and Isaiah Berndt led campaign efforts around the community in support of the project, not for their own good, but for future generations.
"We've both played on that field, it's not the nicest," Weston said. "We don't want anybody else to have to play out there, so this new complex is more about us getting to play on it, but how many other kids will get to play on it and make memories out there."
Officials hope to break ground on the project sometime this summer, and they hope to have it done just in time for the 2022 football season.
A new scoreboard, parking lot, and concession stand will also be included in the athletic complex project. School officials say it will also be open to community members for recreation.
Also included in the referendum were $1 million in capital improvements towards improving energy efficiencies, flooring in schools, and other maintenance in academic buildings.
You can view the full details of the referendum here.