Mattoon High School is going to receive a makeover for most of its athletic facilities next year.
The Mattoon School Board approved plans Wednesday night to spend $4.4 million to improve surfaces and facilities for football, baseball, track, soccer and tennis.
Mattoon will pay for the project by using an Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity grant for $2 million as well as funds from the county sales tax.
Mattoon superintendent Tim Condron said the district will present a financial plan to the board July 13 for the remainder of the improvements to the school and the facilities.
“MHS students and student-athletes will be offered an experience on our new campus that may be found in a college or university atmosphere,” Condron said.
Here is a breakdown on the proposed changes.
FOOTBALL – The field will be replaced with synthetic grass, thanks to the commerce grant, and other facilities in the stadium might also receive improvements. “We are going to see maintenance savings for irrigation and lining the field, even though there will still be some costs,” Condron said. This construction will shut down the stadium this fall, meaning MHS won’t be able to host home games at Gaines Field. Athletic Director Dave Vieth is looking for ways to host games somewhere in the community, including possible dates at Eastern Illinois.
BASEBALL – The infield will get an all-turf infield, a new bullpen, new backstops, fencing and, perhaps, a new scoreboard. The current fence will be replaced by a four-foot padding on the bottom topped by stretch-netting to protect fans, much like the baseball field currently at Okaw Valley. Condron said the padding will likely have a Green Wave logo or large M. The field is expected to be completed before the baseball season begins next spring.
“The upgrades will certainly make Mattoon High School the premier facilities in the area,” said MHS baseball coach Jarod Kiger. “These advancements will, hopefully, draw people to our community and increase the number of participants across the board.”
TRACK – The surface will be upgraded using the same materials with a slate gray surface and perhaps MHS green in the exchange zones.
SOCCER – The soccer field on the west end of campus will get turf, joining several other local programs like Urbana, Mt. Zion and Taylorville that already play on this surface. The team dugouts are likely to also see improvements.
TENNIS – The current asphalt will be replaced with post-tension concrete that should not yield as many cracks over the years, Condron said, and nets and fencing will also be replaced. The courts might not be available for the fall girls season.
Condron said lights at several athletic fields are likely to be replaced by more efficient LED lighting that will be distributed on metal poles in concrete bases that will direct light as much as possible away from residents along the edge of campus. The wooden poles will be razed. Plus, Condron says: “Hopefully, we’ll see some utility savings.”
Here are some other photos of the baseball field at Okaw Valley.