LA CENTER — Work on the long-awaited La Center High School football stadium is nearing completion, but residents won’t see the final, covered stadium until after this year’s football season.
“The steel is going up, but we didn’t want to work on the cover during football season,” La Center School District Superintendent Dave Holmes explained recently.
Instead, construction crews will wait until November to start work on the stadium cover. The new stadium, along with a community garden area being constructed near the high school’s lower parking lot, will be completed by the end of this year.
In fact, having the stadium — a project that is now two decades in the making — completed before the start of 2017 was part of an agreement between the school district and the Colf family, La Center benefactors who agreed last March to donate $200,000 in steel for the stadium if the city of La Center would waive its inspection permit fees and that the district would be able to complete the project before the start of 2017.
In mid-September, Holmes said work on both the stadium and the community garden was on track for a December completion date.
The new high school sports stadium is something many La Center residents have been dreaming about for years. La Center High School athletes have not played on their home field since the early 1990s, and the district tried twice in 2013 to pass levies to build the new stadium and other athletic facilities.
In 2005, community members formed the La Center Education Foundation to help promote the stadium project. Dick Colf, a La Center native who graduated from La Center High School more than 55 years ago, provided one of the Foundation’s first large donations in 2005. Ten years later, when the city of La Center won a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Commerce, city leaders decided to fund several community projects with the money, including the community garden, paved walking paths, a new city park and, of course, the new stadium at La Center High School.
The school district used money from the city’s grant, along with the $200,000 steel donation from the Colf family and money collected by the Foundation, to complete the stadium project and work began last summer.
At a La Center City Council meeting held March 23, 2016, now-retired La Center School District Superintendent Mark Mansell thanked councilors for waiving the city inspection fees and said the Colfs’ donation and the city’s grant money would benefit all residents in La Center: “Clearly, these enhancements, from the track to the trails to the community garden to the stadium … benefit all citizens. The gift from the Colfs gives more opportunities to benefit all citizens in La Center.”