Concordia Lutheran High School athletic director and head football coach Tim Mannigel confirmed to Outside the Huddle on Friday a major renovation of its athletic facilities that will include field turf and a new track, scoreboard and sound system at Zollner Stadium, as well as a resurfacing of the adjacent tennis courts.
The project is expected to be completed by the start of football season this fall.
“Discussion really got intense within the past year (for this project), and for good reason,” Mannigel said.
Zollner Stadium’s grass playing surface has been criticized in recent years, although by no fault of anyone. The field was reseeded two years ago and was in pretty good shape heading into Week 1 when Bishop Dwenger hosted Wayne. But a deluge of rain turned the grass into a muddy mess. Concordia attempted to reseed every week during that 2018 season, but the repairs were not enough.
Last year, Concordia once again reseeded the field but due to nearly-continuous use, the grass surface was in dire condition again by season’s end.
That won’t be a problem now.
“Bishop Dwenger playing at home last year helped our field, but it still wasn’t great,” Mannigel said. “As everyone pointed out, it wasn’t a good look.”
While financial details were not disclosed by Mannigel, he did point to a pair of entities – the Concordia Educational Foundation and the Lutheran Foundation of Fort Wayne as being major backers of the project, as well as Mychal Thom, the head of Concordia Lutheran High School.
“This project is possible thanks to some very generous people,” Mannigel said. “We had a lot of good momentum for this back in December, January and February and then the pandemic hit. We weren’t really sure what it meant for the project, but we are moving forward and it is going to be a real positive for our community and our kids.”
Football will not be the only beneficiary of the field turf at Zollner Stadium. Home soccer games will now be played on campus instead of at Kreager Park, while the surface will also be lined for lacrosse, allowing Concordia’s lacrosse club to play at home as well.
While the grass surface has gotten its share of grief, Zollner Stadium is one of the more underrated facilities in northern Indiana on Friday nights. This project will add to that experience.
“Zollner Stadium is our home so we are biased, but there is nowhere else I would rather play,” Mannigel said. “Other than the field, it is a great facility compared to other Lutheran high schools around the country and a lot of other venues in Fort Wayne.
Adding field turf and a scoreboard is going to make it even more of an attraction.”