Two years ago the Norsemen Booster Club began forging forward with plans to make the move a reality when safety concerns at the city-owned location escalated, but finding the golden nugget to finance the then projected $1.9 million project turned out to be a difficult task.
The Norsemen Booster Club has since re-evaluated its cost estimates and broken the project into phases in hopes of getting more people on board with the immediate needs of the athletic complex development. Since then several area businesses and individuals have donated to the Norsemen Booster Club to help ease the transition costs.
Phase 1 will need to be completed before the start of the 2016 football season kicks off in August. The first phase is estimated to cost approximately $200,000 and entails construction of a press box (est. $155,000), scoreboard ($16,000-donation from Sleepy Hollow), goalpost installation (est. $1,500), plus sound system and utility work. The Booster Club has received verbal commitments from several tradesmen to donate their time to Phase 1, River City Ready Mix will be providing the concrete and WCCU has donated $5,000 to the project.
Phase 2 involves the installation of high efficiency stadium lighting approximately $155,000 and elevated bleachers estimated to cost $190,000.
Future phases of the overall project involves the completion of the parking lot; expanding the running track to eight lanes; moving field events for track; construction of a concession stand, with restrooms; and installing visitor seating on the south side of the track.
Keith Olson, the president of the Norsemen Booster Club, said the organization is very grateful for any and all donations to the relocation project and development of the athletic complex, which is a huge undertaking. According to Olson there is currently an abundant amount of parking in the grassy area adjacent to the field, in the high school parking lot, and along the street; the construction of a formal parking lot has been discussed, but is not a high priority at this time; there are bathrooms just west of the bus garage, but a designated concession stand, with bathrooms, would not only be ideal, but a significant improvement in the future. He added that the running track would not need to be redone until the current track needs replacement and the lifespan of a rubberized track is roughly 15-20 years.
Westby varsity football Head Coach Andy Hulst said the move to school grounds is in the best interest of the students and that any concerns people might have about letting go of a long-standing tradition, would be lessened once new traditions are implemented. Hulst too is grateful to everyone donating money, time or services to the relocation efforts and said having a new scoreboard operational by the start of the season is a big step.
“The football program and the school are very grateful to Sleepy Hollow for the scoreboard donation and to all other donors. We have a long way to go for next year and I can imagine that the field next year will have minimum amenities at this point and time, but the scoreboard was a huge place to start for us,” Hulst said.
Speaking on behalf of the Westby Area School District and the scoreboard donation from Sleepy Hollow, Chuck Norton (Westby Schools District Administrator) said, “As a District, we are overwhelmed by the generosity of both LaVon and Michelle Felton. Their donation of a scoreboard to be installed at our football and track facility is greatly needed, and will stand as a testament to the support our communities are willing to give.”
Football has been a part of the extracurricular activities in Westby since 1939, with the first full season of games played in 1940. Since that time in history the games have been played on city-owned property in Veterans Memorial Park located on Market and Highland streets. Veterans Memorial Park also houses a baseball field, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, but will no longer be the home of Westby football.
Relocating Westby Area High School football games from Veteran’s Memorial Field downtown to school-owned property located west of the high school has been discussed for decades, but continually ran into stone walls. Then on Monday, Feb. 8 the Westby Area School District Board of Education voted unanimously to approve relocating high school football games to school-owned property and away from the city-owned field downtown.
Beginning with the 2016 season, Westby football games will now be played on the interior of the school track. When the high school track area was rubberized and upgraded several years ago, the grass infield was also crowned and proper drainage was installed, with the intention of utilizing the space for football in the future. The first home game of the 2016 season has Darlington traveling to Westby on Friday, Aug. 19.
The Norsemen Booster Club website is currently being updated, but the FundRazr site is still active online. Contact Keith Olson (608) 606-3678 or send donations to Norsemen Booster Club, P.O. Box 0091, Westby, WI, 54667. Also feel free to contact Chad Hofslien—Norsemen Booster Club Vice President; Becky Lipski—Secretary; Marty Snustead—Treasurer; John Griffin—At-Large Member; or Andy Hulst -Norsemen Varsity Football Coach with any questions, comments or donations.