Albert Lea School District Seeking $24 Million Sports Complex Upgrades

March 21, 2018 10:59 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Albert Lea School District is asking for voters to approve a $24 million referendum for new sports facilities for the school. If passed in a special election, that money would be paid through a 20-year bond.

The proposed referendum would redo the entire Hammer Field Athletic Complex, including the football, softball and soccer fields, and the field house. It would also give Halverson Elementary a full-sized gym.

"Now is the best time because we have debt coming off the books in a few years, and when that debt comes off the books, we're able to replace it with this new project," Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk said.


Funk also said if the referendum passes, taxes will remain the same.

"Say in three years we come back and say, 'okay we need this project,'” Funk said. “Well, now we're going to have to ask people for more money because we just gave them back money a couple years prior to that."

Parents who were opposed to the referendum said they thought it was too much too fast; others were excited about the positive impact.

"I am in complete support of it," parent Kim Nelson said.  
Nelson's daughter is a sophomore at Albert Lea, and has been a long-time soccer player.

She said one issue of many in the athletic complex is the layout. Her daughter has to walk through the boys’ locker room and bathrooms to get to the athletic trainer.

"She's in that soccer locker room right now, which used to be a garage, and she needs to walk past the boys if she needs to go to the trainer to get her ankle wrapped," Nelson said.
If the project is approved, construction would start in spring of 2019 and be ready for fall sports that same year.

"For her to be able to have that her senior year, I think would be huge," Nelson said.

Funk also said being able to host tournaments with the finished project would give the community economic benefits. The special election will be held May 8.

The district will be hosting additional informational meetings in April:

Sibley Elementary - Monday, April 9 at 6:00 p.m.

Hawthorne Elementary - Tuesday, April 10 at 6:00 p.m.

Southwest Middle School - Tuesday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m.


Elise Romas

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