An aerial photo of the USD 231 District Athletic Complex shows the progress on upgrades to the football field including artificial turf complete with painted end zones and logo. The field and facilities will be ready for the Gardner Edgerton High School football squad’s season opener on Aug. 31. Photo courtesy of USD 231

Danedri Thompson
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The players aren’t the only ones polishing up for the first game of the 2012 football season on Aug. 31.
The USD 231 District Athletic Complex is getting a makeover as well. Gary Diener, district director of operations, said upgrades to the stadium should be complete just in time for Gardner Edgerton High School to take on Blue Valley in the football season opener on Friday, Aug. 31.
“There really isn’t going to be a lot of flexibility. We’re going to be using every little bit of that time,” Diener said of the construction project that is ongoing.
This summer, workers tore out grass on the field and replaced it with artificial turf. They’ve also been busy adding capacity to the stadium. When all is said and done, there will be enough seating for approximately 3,800 fans, an addition of 740 seats. The project includes the addition of new seating on the home team side as well as canopies above some of the bleachers that will protect some seating from weather.
Visiting team fans will see new concessions and restrooms on the other side.
The construction isn’t stopping the Blazer football team from practicing, though the facilities are closed to the public at this time.
“We have temporary occupancy for the kids to practice Sout there, but it’s very important that they stay within the fenced area. They’re practicing in the evenings after construction is pretty much completed,” Diener said.
The football stadium upgrades are part of a $72 million bond issue voters approved in January. Additions to the athletic complex are approximately $3.2 million.
Diener said costs so far are “right on target.”
If the project comes in under budget, Diener said there are a few things the extra funds may be used to purchase. For example, he said the district could use new pole vaulting mats and other equipment.
“If there are additional funds remaining, but that decision will be made at the time when all the bills come in,” he said.
While the field will be ready in time for the first game, Diener said there may be a few things like landscaping and final clean-up to be finished in September.
Other bond issue projects, including the construction of an elementary and middle school, are scheduled for completion by next fall.
The Blazers will take the field for their first game at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 at the USD 231 District Athletic Complex.