Shanley teams finally get a home: Stadium, athletic complex in plans
FARGO - The home field for Shanley High School athletes is never at home.
Instead, home jumps around town - from South High School to Concordia College.
But now, for the first time in its 74-year sports history, home will be in its own backyard.
"It's just going to be huge," Development Director Todd Mickelson said. "(We) haven't had a home."
The empty, barren field outside the school will soon transform into a state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar, artificial turf stadium, opening this fall.
Fargo Catholic Schools Network officials announced Monday that they've raised nearly $5 million of the $7 million needed to complete the project.
"The home-field advantage is a big thing, but just the whole school pride to be able to play on a field with their name on it ... it will be a new and exciting experience for everybody," Activities Director Randy Nelson said.
Crews will break ground on the Sid Cichy Stadium and Shelly Ellig Athletic Complex at the close of the school year. The facility will host football and soccer teams, as well as gym classes.
"Now, if anybody would have told you that a Lutheran was going to help you with this project, you would have said, 'Oh what have you been drinking,' " joked Ellig, the local businessman who contributed more than $1 million. "But it does happen. And I am more than happy to make this possible."
With lights, locker rooms, a scoreboard (funded by $55,000 raised at this weekend's annual auction) and seating for 1,500, officials hope the field will be an asset for the entire area.
"We would very much like to have it utilized by the rest of the community," Mickelson said, adding the artificial turf could attract local teams when grass fields get flooded.
But it comes with a cost. Phase I - the construction of the stadium - has a $1.1 million price tag.
The public announcement of the project was expected to come several months ago, but was stalled as the economy slowed fundraising. Phasing the projects and receiving additional gifts have allowed the private schools to get back on track.
And they're not done.
They hope to continue raising money to complete other additions such as track and baseball fields - hopefully within a year, Mickelson said.
The state-of-the-art facility won't just benefit next year's student body - which will be the highest enrollment in some 20 years - but also be used to recruit future athletes.
"Today, education has become competitive," Superintendent Kyle Edgerton said. "And I think we either have to be good as or better to attract and to retain our student body."
Current students know the hassle of doing without a home field.
"You just feel like you never have a home," said sophomore football player Myles Montplaisir.
"It always feels like an away game," added fellow sophomore football player Connor McGovern. "That first game will be pretty exciting."