At one of his previous coaching stops, Jim Ahern had a few road games closer than the trip his Lansing Catholic football team regularly made for its home games at Holt Jr. High.
That will no longer be the case in a couple weeks for the veteran coach.
After years of using other fields for its home games, the Lansing Catholic football program finally has an on-campus stadium it can call its own.
The stadium, which is nearing completion, will host its first event when Lansing Catholic opens its football season against Waverly on Aug. 26.
“This truly is a dream come true for so many people in our community,” Lansing Catholic president Tom Maloney said. “We have over 110 plus years of catholic high school history and tradition in the city of Lansing and we have never had a Friday night football game on campus.
“We’ve never had Friday night lights. We’ve had lots of alumni back from the 1960s and ’70s that are so excited to see this, Our current players are ecstatic and can’t wait for a chance to get on here. There is a true sense of community here that this is a dream for a lot of people finally coming to fruition here.”
Lansing Catholic’s soccer, track and field, cross country and lacrosse teams and its Junior Cougars programs will also use the stadium, which has a synthetic turf playing surface.
Maloney said the $2.5 million stadium, which will have seating for 2,100, will be complete prior to the season opener. Workers this week are finishing the installation of the stands on the home side and the press box and striping the track. The sound equipment and electrical work are among the other key elements that will be completed over the next couple weeks.
Ahern is appreciative of those that have donated to the project and helped make the stadium a reality for the Lansing Catholic community.
“I always joke with everybody that it will seem so good not to have to get on a bus every time we have a game,” said Ahern, whose team is slated to practice on the field for the first time this week.
“It will be nice to just be able to walk out and play. It will be a big factor for our practice because when it rains, where we were practicing just sort of turns into a swamp because it was a little bit low. This will give us a place to practice when the weather is bad. There’s a great deal of gratitude that needs to go out to all the people that made this possible.”
Maloney said the completion of the stadium marks just the halfway point of Lansing Catholic’s $5 million campaign that has centered on bringing the football and baseball teams home. Additional home and visitor stands and a concessions/restrooms building will eventually be added to the stadium and updates and renovations will be made to on-campus softball, soccer and baseball fields when the rest of the funds are raised.
“We’re not done,” Maloney said. “This is a great first leg of this journey here, but we’ve got more to do.”