COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) – Since August, the Columbia City community has been able to enjoy a brand-new high school campus, which includes a new athletic stadium.
“When we have visitors or our guests here, their comment is ‘this just has a college campus feel to it’ from the sound system to what we’re able to do with the video board,” said Brett Fox, Columbia City’s head football coach. “Just the feel of the school in the background, and one of our four elementary schools and our middle school also being on the same campus.”
The new stadium includes a synthetic turf field with an eight-lane track around it, a scoreboard, a press box, home and away team locker rooms, two concession stands, and two entrances.
On the home team side the bleachers can hold up to 2,500 fans. Fox was unsure about the number of fans that can fit on the away side.
Construction for Columbia City’s new facilities began in 2017.
“It’s been an ongoing process for quite a while but I’ve been watching this place constructed for a good four years,” said Khelli Leitch, Columbia City’s athletic director. “As far as its impact with athletics, it’s just given us an opportunity to have a lot more space to utilize.”
Leitch explained that because of different bid packages, it’s hard to determine how much the new athletic facilities at Columbia City cost. However, the stadium was a part of the entire high school project which Leitch said cost “somewhere around $85 million.”
This new facility is a big upgrade from the last one the Eagles had to play on.
“It was a natural grass stadium, shared by football and soccer,” said Fox. “Our press box had a huge hole in it and you felt like when you walked up the stairs that you were gonna fall over or the whole thing may collapse on you.”
“[The field] also backed up right into our practice field and you had to be careful with players and stuff possibly running the bleachers and all kinds of things,” said Fox.
Fox said at the beginning of the season, the team could not believe the stadium was actually their new home field.
“The guys just absolutely love it. The first week we were out here from players and coaches said ‘we don’t feel like this is necessarily like ours,'” said Fox. “It just feels like we’re at team camp, and you know we’re just going to drive back and be at the old school and things like that.”
The team’s defensive coordinator, Jeff Clark, has been a coach at Columbia City for 36 years, and Fox said he is “in awe” of how the field looks.
The field isn’t only for football, as it’s shared with Columbia City’s other sports teams and is also used for PE class.
“This project really adds value to our community and provides something for our kids that you know we’re going to remember for lifetimes,” said Leitch.
In Friday night’s Highlight Zone game of the week, Columbia City fell to Leo by a score of 21-7.