Elliott column: Clark Field proposal gets its unveiling

Elliott column: Clark Field proposal gets its unveiling

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Elliott column: Clark Field proposal gets its unveiling

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After more than a year of work, Jim Dahl is ready for a public unveiling of the Clark Field Project.

Dahl is president of the St. Cloud Tech Alumni Association Board. His group has been working diligently to re-open Clark Field.

A public meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday on the second floor of DB Searle’s, at 18 5th Ave. So., in downtown St. Cloud.

Dahl’s ready to go. Ask him questions. He hopes to be able to answer all of them.

Clark is the venerable home football field for Tech. It’s named after Elizabeth Clark, Tech’s first principal and a huge supporter of extracurricular activities.

Closed for varsity football play before the 2012 season because it was deemed unsafe, the Works Progress Administration relic has been a source of pride for Tech alumni since 1942.

“Not a lot has been done to it since then, unfortunately,” Dahl said.

He noted that home-team benches used even this season for non-varsity events are the same ones used in 1942, “with maybe a fresh coat of paint or two since,” he said.

The meeting is to show the plans for refurbishing the field and to officially begin the fundraising. The plans are detailed and impressive. The project is expected to cost $3 million to $3.5 million.

Dahl said his group hopes to raise half that and expects the school district to match it, though that is not finalized.

His group’s goal is to have a new field opened in the fall of 2015.

“We’re really hoping to maintain the aura of Clark Field,” Dahl said, noting that the walls built by the WPA will be maintained.

It’ll have artificial turf, but fans will remain closer to the action than most high school stadiums while meeting all current safety codes.

It will be handicap accessible with new concessions, bathrooms, locker areas, a press box and seating located along the west grandstand, which is about to tumble over. The east grandstand will be maintained.

There’s a lot more. Anyone who has witnessed a game at Clark should be intrigued by the proposals.

The kick-off at this time is important because of tax considerations for potential donors to take advantage of 2013 incentives.

The alumni association is networking nationally to try to contact some 20,000 living alumni.

Dahl and his group view the proposal as a community effort and facility.

The renovation, Dahl said, has the approval of the Lake George Neighborhhood Association and is receiving help form the St. Cloud Rotary Club, among others.

A lot already has been donated, including the plans for the new Clark Field.

It’s not only for football. It’ll be used for lacrosse and soccer as well as physical education, community education and other recreational opportunities.

The task is tall, of course.

Asking the public for money with that many zeros is always a challenge, but Dahl believes his group is up to the task.

It’s all part of a broader facilities issue for the school district and there a lot of questions to be answered and discussions to be had.

“There are tons of questions,” Dahl agreed. “If we want to get just one thing done, can it be Clark Field?”

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