By Jayne Hanson
Lake Havasu High School officials announced Friday that the large-scale project is on track for completion and the official turn-over to the district is set for Wednesday.
“It will be a great venue to open our season in,” said Karl Thompson, LHHS head football coach. “The kids are really excited. They’ve seen the old one removed and now it’s a clean slate. Here we are, starting the season. It’s a good place to build school culture and get everyone in the community excited about it.”
The upgrades and expansions to the school’s track and football field include better directional LED lighting, water cannons to cool the turf, seating expanded to accommodate 3,000 spectators, upgraded restrooms, a new snack bar, increased parking spaces to at least 180 spaces, an improved sound system, and better press box, which is twice the previous size.
Coach Thompson, who has been at LHHS since the 1999-2000 school year, reflected on the magnitude of the project compared to the slow progress to improve the grounds during his coaching career there.
“I remember when three score boards were the major upgrade,” Thompson said. “This is night and day. In 2007-2008, there was a big push to talk about doing what we’ve done now.”
Brady Krueger, LHHS assistant principal and athletic director, said the major issue was safety for the students.
“The quality of the fields is much improved,” Krueger said. “Now we have a much safer and consistent playing field. There were safety issues before. There were eight light poles on the field that were right off the sidelines, they were a huge safety issue.”
Another issue was the track. The school simply was lacking a regulation track and students had to make their way to Thunderbolt Middle School for practice and competitions.
“It will help our total number of athletes,” said Dustin Zampogna, LHHS head track coach of the new track. “We always practice and compete at the middle school. This should allow for more athletes to participate in track. Before, we didn’t’ have a bus to get them over there.”
The school officials said on average there are about 480 kids who participate in sports and other programs at LHHS that will directly benefit from the new grounds. Roughly, those students include 100 in football, 80 for track, 80 in soccer (boys and girls teams combined), 65 for band, and 30 wrestlers, who use the area for conditioning.
Furthermore, the additional new lower practice field will be utilized by students enrolled in physical education classes and for soccer practices. The measure helps protect fields for softball and baseball fields but also free up field space for the LHHS band to practice.
For now, the LHHS football team has been practicing on the baseball field, school officials said.
The LHHS scoreboard is the one original element that ties back to the previous field. The scoreboard has been recycled and incorporated into the mix at the new field.
Groundbreaking on the near $7 million project was April 2 of this year, however the project began in February. LHHS graduation in May was hosted at SARA Park. The new track and football field is scheduled to be turned over to Lake Havasu Unified School District Aug. 1, Krueger said.
The second phase of the bond-funded project is set for 2020. That project focuses on improving the adjacent baseball and softball fields.
The first home game to be played on the new football field is Aug. 31. It’s the Golden Shovel game, during which the LHHS Fighting Knights go head-to-head with the Mohave High School Thunderbirds, of Bullhead City, in order to defend the travelling trophy.
Coach Thompson said the very golden shovel at hand was used to break ground on the same day for both LHHS and MHS in the late 1960s. The schools have been vying for possession every season since.
The following photos are progression photos of demolition of field over the summer until just before completion.
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