The Galesburg Board of Education has given the green light to a $15-million plan that will overhaul the high school’s athletic facilities.
The plan includes a new football stadium, soccer field, baseball diamond, and a multi-purpose building that will include locker rooms, weight rooms, storage, and space for physical education. The project will create a more centralized campus, while also accommodating for more girls playing sports and increased popularity in sports like soccer since the original facilities were built.
“What we want to do with this is just make it an exciting stadium to go to, and offer possibilities that we can host events, like sectionals, that we’re not able to do now,” said board president Natalie Kessler.
Those possibilities could be good for the community as well.“One, we’re bringing in outside communities to see our facilities. But the other piece– they’re coming to town, they’re going to spend money on gas, on food, restaurants, and also pay ticket prices. We realize that we’ve already had a great run here in Galesburg, but there’s no reason to slow down. We wanna keep it going,” said superintendent Bart Arthur.
Not everyone, though, is on board.
“The project looks nice, the problem is it’s the wrong time to do it,” said board member Robert Lindstrom.
Lindstrom feels the board’s priorities are out of line.
“If we were to have an incident at Galesburg High School in the coming months, I could see the national media coming in and saying, ‘Well, they didn’t do anything about security, but they’re spending $15 million on athletic facilities. They got their priorities mixed up,’” said Lindstrom.
For Superintendent Arthur, though, education and athletics go hand-in-hand.
“Athletics are a great learning environment for kids, too, it’s just not in the classroom. I understand those people’s concerns, but I would argue that athletics are a part of the educational process, and I’m thrilled that we can offer our kids that,” said Arthur.
Construction will likely begin this fall, and the project is expected to take about a year to complete. The athletic facilities’ upgrade is just Phase 1 of the district’s master plan. Phase 2 involves major renovations to the Galesburg High School building itself, and that will begin once Phase 1 is complete. The new multi-purpose building will also serve as a place for students to go while the old gym is used for classrooms during Phase 2 construction.
The project is being paid for with bonds which were specifically sold for campus upgrades.