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Concordia eyes upgraded complex

Concordia has been promised around 25 percent of the funds it needs to start a Jake Christiansen athletic complex upgrade that will cost $5 million.

Cobbers athletic director Larry Papenfuss said Thursday the school has $1.2 million in pledges and verbal commitments from donors for the project, which will include upgrades to the football, baseball and soccer fields and locker rooms.

"We've got great facilities now, but they're showing their age, and nothing's been done since '66, 43 years old, the time is now," said Cobbers head football coach Terry Horan.

An exact start date for the project has yet to be set until more money is promised toward the project.

Papenfuss said there is a chance some phases of the project could be started before the $5 million total is secured.

"I think there would be some potential to phase those pieces of the project, but that's really a board of regent decision," said Papenfuss. "And it will depend on how the money comes in. ... It depends upon the donors and what their intent is with their gift as to when we might get started on a piece."

Here is how the project breaks down:

• Building a new locker room facility for football and women's soccer teams for a projected cost of $2.5 million. The men's soccer team will use the existing football locker room. The men's and women's soccer teams currently have locker rooms at Memorial Auditorium.

• Installing an artificial grass turf football field at a projected cost of $1 million.

• Installing lights for the football field for $400,000.

• Relocating the baseball field for $500,000. How the field is relocated depends on where a second vehicle access to the complex is added. Currently, there is only one vehicle access to the complex.

• Installing artificial grass turf baseball infield for $400,000.

• Upgrades to the soccer field for $200,000.

"I think those things in terms of recruiting will help," said Cobbers soccer coach Dan Weiler, who is head coach of both the men's and women's teams.

Concordia baseball coach Bucky Burgau feels the planned upgrades will help his team get on the field earlier in the spring.

"If we have a turf infield, the sun is going to take care of a lot of our problems as far as getting the snow off of there," Burgau said. "We feel we will be out there two weeks earlier than we normally would."

Papenfuss said recruiting students and increased athletic participation are two of the main reasons for the upgrade.

The number of athletes at Concordia has more than doubled in the past decade to 785 last school year.

More than 25 percent of students participate in athletics. More than 60 percent of the incoming male students participated in a sport last year.

The current football locker room at Jake Christiansen Stadium was built for 90 players and constructed in 1966.

Concordia dresses 130 players on game days along with the visiting team.

"I think it's going to be huge in the grand scheme of things," Horan said. "We still have a ways to go. We know that."