Administrator’s Corner: A sports complex update

Published 7:39 pm Friday, May 3, 2019

Administrator’s Corner by Paul Durbahn

Paul Durbahn


As you drive by Hammer Complex at Albert Lea High School, you’ll see tremendous progress on the field upgrade. Much progress has been made and I imagine the community is again hungry for more information and updates. I’d encourage people to visit our district website and click on the Construction Updates link. From the website you’ll see frequent updates, including images and descriptions of progress being made.

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When I last wrote for Administrator’s Corner, I anticipated adversity as we move forward with the spring season, and here we are right in the thick of it. Presumably most affected by the construction has been our track team. The track team is no longer utilizing the track for practices (even though it’s staying intact, it is not safe to use during the construction phase). We’re really proud of how our athletes and coaches have responded to adjusting their practices amidst this hardship. The team is demonstrating resiliency and experiencing much success. We’re also facing a challenge trying to schedule and reschedule softball/baseball events on our Hammer fields with the small window of days left before the bulldozers come in. Our softball and baseball teams, the city and youth organizations have been more than understanding and cooperative.

We’ve seen equipment moving dirt in and out of Jim Gustafson Field. The dirt work has begun on most of the football and soccer practice field locations as well. The black top soil from the old stadium field is being displaced to the practice field locations along Bridge Avenue. A lot of ground needs to be moved, as the plans are to level out a large portion of the complex. This will take some time. Contractors are working around our softball and baseball fields at Hammer Complex so we can try to complete our spring seasons. In the middle of May they will begin moving dirt and relocating the baseball and softball diamonds and discus areas. The majority of Hammer Complex will be reseeded and won’t be utilized in the fall. Our soccer and football teams will practice at various off-site locations and establish a rotation for which team practices on the turf field. The artificial turf itself will be installed in the football/soccer field at Jim Gustafson Field in mid- to late-June. We’ll hopefully see some dugouts go in near the end of August and the turf infield on the softball field this summer.

Construction of the bleachers and concession stands Gustafson Field will begin in mid-May, and our hopes are to see them completed in early September. The Jim Gustafson stone memorial has been retained from the old facility and bricks with donor names will be re-etched. Both will be placed in the new facility. The field house likely won’t be done until late fall, but the precast walls may come up mid-May. Due to the later completion of the field house, our student athletes may not have onsite locker rooms for the beginning of the season on the new field; I think it’s a concession they’ll be willing to make.

We are tentatively moving our first scheduled home football game of the season, but hope to play all other scheduled soccer and football games on the new surface. When a MSHSL football schedule is finalized we’ll reveal our home dates.

Work on Halverson’s gym starts after school is out. This project includes an expansion to a full-sized gym and will move the office out to the front of the building. We hope to see the office ready by the start of the upcoming school year, but the gym likely won’t be ready until late October or November.

Just in time for graduation, we now have a new HVAC system installed in the gym at the high school. This will make a difference during hot summer days or at fall volleyball games. The pool locker room project is in full swing; the demo is complete and plumbing and electrical work is in progress. We anticipate the new locker rooms will be accessible for the fall girls’ swim and dive season.

  We hope the community shares the excitement of this project with us! Please come out and support your spring sports teams as we approach tournament time! We have our senior awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Graduation commencement will be at 7 p.m. May 17 in the Albert Lea High School gymnasium.

Paul Durbahn is the activities director for Albert Lea High School.