Fans will notice a decidedly different Zollner Stadium this fall.
School officials announced a plan that will bring improvements and renovations to the weather-beaten football field, track surface and tennis courts that play host to Concordia High School athletics teams. The stadium will also feature a new video-capable scoreboard and new, rich sound system.
The multimillion-dollar project is expected to be finalized by the fall football season.
Cadet soccer teams will enjoy “home” games rather than playing at Kreager Park near New Haven. Lacrosse and marching band will also utilize the new-and-improved Zollner.
Concordia joins Spuller Stadium at Northrop High School with turf this fall. Carroll High School’s new field will have turf next year. Six of the 10 teams in the Summit Athletic Conference have turf.
Concordia Athletic Director Tim Mannigal, also head coach of the Cadets’ football team, said the stadium and its component parts — locker rooms, coaches office, concession stand and press box — made it one of the best facilities around the area
The playing field? Mannigal admits that’s a different story.
With two schools, Bishop Dwenger and Concordia, sharing the field for dozens of games every season, the grass field was battered quickly. Groundskeepers had their hands full contending with the mud, the muck and bare dirt.
“A normal field should get at most 20 games a season if it is a grass field. Ours was somewhere in the 50s. That’s tough to maintain” Mannigal explained. “Then if you get any rain, that tears it up completely. We knew we had to do the field turf. It was just a matter of everything coming to get turf and the timing was right, now.
“With the additions, we really hope it’s one of the premiere facilities in the state.”
Typically, turf will last eight to 10 years before it needs to be replaced. This turf is Sprint Turf, like the surface in use at Dave Walters Memorial Stadium at Homestead High School.
The design is in place. The field will feature alternating field panels of light and dark green every five yards, and Concordia’s maroon in the end zone with “Cadets” scripted across the middle of the field. The field will also be lined for the school’s club lacrosse teams.
As challenging as the football field has been, Mannigal said rebuilding the track was even more concerning: “The track was probably more in need of refurbishment than the football field. It was an absolute necessity.”
He noted faded lanes and even a hole that had been plugged in lane seven. Shot put, discus and pole vault areas will also be renovated.
The tennis courts will see their first major work since they were built in 2003. That includes a new surface and new paint.
“To make the additions we are making, we are excited not just for us but for the community.” Mannigal said.