By Josh Dolmage
RIP Sonner Stadium. The final home game for the Builder football program this year will not only be the final home game of the season, but also the final game played at the 63 year old Sonner Stadium.
The plans for a new football stadium are currently underway. The new stadium will cost anywhere from$3.5 to $3.8 million. Dick Merriman, president of the college is hoping to have the groundbreaking the night of the last home game against Tabor College on November 7. However, this is not set in stone quite yet.
The new stadium will have many new things that the college, Winfield High School, and the community can look forward to. A new track, turf field, VIP suites, new concession stands, and two plazas are just a few of the changes that are going to be made. About $2.3 million has been committed.
The money for the new stadium will come from promotions, cash contributions and pledges. Those who donate a considerable amount will have parts of the new stadium named after them. “The stadium has been named after a donor donated $1 million and the track is also named after a donation of $500,000. Those names and other names of donors will be announced the Friday of homecoming week at a dinner,” said Merriman.
“The first step of the process is the demolition. There may be temporary closures of King Plaza and other areas for equipment, but most of the equipment will be by the hill,” said Merriman.
The contractors name is also being withheld until the homecoming dinner.
While the new stadium and track is being built, the track team has been given permission to practice at Winfield High School. Merriman said, “They have a very nice facility.” Also, the track will not be completed for the annual Spring track meet hosted by Southwestern. “We are hoping to lease the track and facilities at Cowley College for the meet,” said Merriman.
Ken Crandall, head coach of the football team, says that the excitement of a new stadium hasn’t really had too much of an effect on his team. “The seniors are the only ones really talking about it. They are all talking about how they wish they could play on the new field. The younger guys don’t say too much about it. I think that they are in the stage where they won’t believe it until they see it,” said Crandall.
Crandall was excited about using the new stadium as a recruiting tool. “Many of the other schools in our conference have done things to improve their facilities. I think that it is time for us to improve ours,” said Crandall.
Crandall also explained how the new stadium will not only affect the football team and track, but also many other teams here. “The turf will be good to practice on because we don’t have to worry about ruining the grass. The weather damage isn’t as much of a factor. The men’s and women’s basketball teams can do their preseason conditioning on a softer track. The soccer team has the chance to play on the field and the softball team can even use the field to practice fielding balls when their field may be too wet. This will help all the programs,” said Crandall. “People will enjoy this because it is a new thing.”
Mike Farrell, vice president of institutional advancement, also feels people will enjoy this change. “This will help to make the fan experience much more enjoyable. Sonner Stadium is 60 years old and is crumbling apart. It has served its time,” said Farrell. “This will be a wonderful asset for the college, high school and community of Winfield.”
Josh Dolmage is a junior majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.