By Benjamin Whitener
Staff reporter

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The money is there. The plans have been made. All that is left to do is break ground, and build it of course.

On Nov. 7 the groundbreaking ceremony for the Richard L. Jantz Stadium will commence at half time of this season’s last home football game. This will be the last game to be played in Sonner Stadium, which has been in use since 1947.

Dick Merriman, Southwestern president, said that Sonner stadium was named for the owner of an industrial burner manufacturing company. The stadium was built the year after the second World War ended and with the economy taking a turn for the worse Sonner sent some of his workforce to help build the stadium instead of laying them all off.

A specific spot on the field has not yet been designated for the ceremony but Mike Farrell, vice president for institutional advancement, said that it will probably be between the sideline and the track, around the 50 yard line.

So who is Richard L. Jantz and why is the new stadium being named after him?

Jantz graduated from Southwestern College in 1970 with a B.A. in Business. He said that Southwestern was a very important part of his life.

A former member of the board of trustees, he was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2008. He owns and operates Millard Management, which is a crop insurance business serving all of Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri. Jantz was not a member of any athletic team, but he is a sports enthusiast and had many friends that were athletes. He decided to donate $1 million to help fund the new stadium. Jantz said, “It’s something that the college needs to stay up with the rest of the conference.”
It is tradition for the person who donates the largest sum of money to have the establishment named after them.

The $1 million provided by Jantz helps to raise the capital needed to start construction.  Dave Denly, director of athletics, said the project budget is estimated to be between $4.6 and $4.8 million.

Denly said the construction could begin in November with the demolition of Sonner Stadium. The construction will cause some traffic flow problems with heavy machinery and construction equipment movement, but King Drive and Warren Street are going to be open and accessible. Denly said, “We’re trying to keep the work secluded. We don’t want to close down the streets and parking lots.”

Denly also said that the construction of the new stadium is not scheduled to be finished until August of 2010. As a result, the Class of 2010 graduation ceremony will have to be relocated. An official location for the graduation commencement has not been chosen, but Denly said one possible location is Stewart Field House. Dick Merriman said that if graduation is to take place in the Field House it could mean having two ceremonies. One ceremony would be for the graduate degrees, masters and higher, and one ceremony would be for the undergraduate degrees, bachelors.

The construction will also interfere with the schedule of the track and field team. The team will practice at the Winfield High School track complex. The two outdoor home meets that have been scheduled will be moved to the Cowley College track in Arkansas City.

Benjamin Whitener is a junior majoring in digital arts. You may e-mail him at benjamin.whitener@sckans.edu.