The Friday night lights were a little brighter in Menasha this week as football players and fans returned to a newly renovated Nathan Calder Stadium.
The multi-million dollar renovation includes an all-new synthetic turf field, as well as new locker rooms, ticket booth, bathrooms, and handicap-accessible bleachers.
“We took a lot of time to pick our field, and it’s exactly what we like, it’s nice and soft, and the kids really like it much better,” Jeramie Korth, head football coach for Menasha High School, said.
The freshmen on the junior varsity football team eagerly watched from the stands as the varsity team scrimmaged against each other.
“I’m really excited because my neighbors, my family, all my friends, they love coming to watch Bluejay games, and now that we’ve got this facility it’s really nice and I’m sure they’re going to enjoy it just as much as me playing,” Trevor Gustafson, a freshman football player said.
Fans enjoyed the new turf smell from the stands.
“I love this new stadium, I think it’s absolutely awesome,” Shelley Hemingway from Greenville said. “I can’t believe that the community was able to raise enough money to do this.”
The multi-million dollar renovations were made possible by the school district’s successful fundraising effort.
“We’ve raised nearly three million dollars, the total cost of the project in the end is probably going to be closer to four-and-a-half [million], but that fundraising effort took care of a large portion of that expense,” Menasha School District superintendent Chris VanderHeyden said.
The soccer field still has natural turf, but it just got a new irrigation system to prevent it from flooding.
The Bluejays band also received new uniforms.
“I feel like now that it’s like bigger, a lot more people will show up and we’ll get a lot more support,” freshman football player Owen Himes said of the stadium.
While students might not be excited to go back to class, some are definitely thrilled to return to sports.
“Now in high school, it’s a little more of a bigger deal with all the practice and all that but it really comes to benefit with how the field is now,” Isaac Resch, a freshman football player, said.