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Shared athletic complexes at new LPS high schools to be built in phases
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Shared athletic complexes at new LPS high schools to be built in phases

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The Lincoln Board of Education is ready to play ball on expanding athletic facilities for use by all LPS high schools.

At its Tuesday meeting, the board unanimously approved a $15.4 million bid from Cheever Construction for initial work on the shared athletic complexes at the new high schools in northwest and southeast Lincoln, bypassing the typical two-reading procedure for bids over $500,000.

Tuesday's vote allows the district to get the ball rolling on the shared football stadium and track planned at Lincoln Northwest, said LPS Director of Operations Scott Wieskamp, with hopes of having the facility ready when the high school at Northwest 48th and West Holdrege streets opens in 2022.

The Lincoln Northwest stadium will initially feature seating for 2,800 people, in addition to concessions buildings and a press box. The district plans to eventually seat about 5,000 at the stadium.

The district's plans also include shared competition sites for baseball at Lincoln Northwest and soccer, softball and tennis at the southeast site, facilities that should help decrease scheduling headaches for varsity teams even as LPS prepares to add new schools.

The price tag for the outdoor athletic complex projects, which include adding turf to practice fields at the city's existing high schools, is $24.7 million.

Northwest high school site

The new high school on the south end of Lincoln's Air Park neighborhood will eventually include athletic facilities to be shared by all the district's schools, including a football stadium, track and baseball field.

Only $10 million from the $290 million bond issue passed by voters in 2020 is earmarked for the athletic complexes, with $3 million in depreciation funds — money saved on earlier work —  going toward the turf projects. 

The remainder is expected to come from private funds the district still needs to raise, meaning work on the athletic complexes will be completed in phases.

Grading is already complete at the northwest site and underway at the southeast school. That work falls under the construction of the new high schools, which Hausmann Construction is overseeing.

Cheever's bid includes completion of the softball practice field and one of two baseball fields planned for the northwest site. Work will also be able to proceed on four soccer fields and two softball fields at the southeast high school at 70th Street and Saltillo Road set to open in 2023.

Lincoln Northwest construction

As work continues on the new Lincoln Northwest High School on Tuesday, attention will also focus on completing the first phase of shared athletic facilities at the site, including a football/track stadium.

The main soccer field there will feature seating for about 800 to 1,000 people, Wieskamp said, while the main softball field will have seating for at least 500.

The athletic complexes will allow LPS more flexibility in hosting games and tournaments, Wieskamp said.

"We're thankful the board was able to get us some partial funding, because we knew the need was there," he said. "We're really wanting them to be nice facilities." 

As far as the turf installations go, Nemaha Landscape Construction is expected to wrap up work at Lincoln North Star and Lincoln East next month. The company installed turf at Northeast and Southeast last fall.

The district will field bids soon for turf work at Lincoln Southwest in a project expected to be complete sometime this fall. Lincoln High's Beechner Athletic Complex, which is a secondary site for LPS football and soccer games, already has artificial turf.

The district scheduled work during the spring and fall, instead of the busy summer months, in order to save money on the turf installation, Wieskamp said.

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

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K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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