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September 15, 2019

Courtesy Rettler Corporation

Pictured is an example of a design for the interior of the air-supported dome that will be the centerpiece of the Hodag Sports Complex slated to open in the fall of 2020.
Courtesy Rettler Corporation

Pictured is an example of a design for the interior of the air-supported dome that will be the centerpiece of the Hodag Sports Complex slated to open in the fall of 2020.
8/6/2019 7:30:00 AM
Committee begins surveying options for dome interior

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

With the dome vs. steel building decision made, School District of Rhinelander officials are beginning the process of deciding what the interior of the indoor sports facility should look like.

To that end, the district's ad hoc capital projects committee was presented with a variety of options July 29 when representatives of the Rettler Corporation, which is designing the entire Hodag Sports Complex, unveiled their ideas.

The newly named Hodag Sports Complex will be located between Mike Webster Stadium and Rhinelander High School. Earlier this summer, the school board decided the centerpiece of the complex will be an air-supported dome rather than a steel building. Next week, the board will be asked to commit to building the 240' x 380' version, rather than a smaller dome.

As Rettler Corporation president John Kneer told the committee, the larger dome accommodate almost any sport by way of field markings and safety nets to allow for multiple uses.

Deciding which lines should be permanent, and which should be temporary, will be one of many decisions that will have to be made between now and when the dome is expected to open next fall.

Kneer presented a set of designs for each sport.

"What we did was kind of breakdown the fields. What we wanted to do was show you what they look like individually; what you can fit on here (turf field inside the dome)," Kneer said.

Those sports fields include a full-size football field, with full end zones and clearance around the field for spectators.

"It fits wonderfully here, there's plenty of space for sideline activity," he said.

A full-size soccer pitch would also fit nicely.

"We would do that in yellow striping or another color striping there," Kneer said.

If the need ever arises for lacrosse, that could fit under the dome, as well.

Also, two softball fields can be squeezed inside the dome.

"(The outfields) are 185'," Kneer said. "We're about 175' from the center of the dome, and from what I understand from the Oshkosh sports facility, they did have intramural softball in there with great success. It's a great place to have indoor drills for baseball and softball, especially in the spring when things are still pretty white outside."

Gymnastics is another winter sport that could benefit from the dome. This would be accomplished by having the team share the pole vault pit with track, while practice could be held on the removable courts.

Head gymnastics coach Heather Sturtevant said this would make for ideal practicing conditions.

"When I have both junior high and high school together, that's 45 girls," Sturtevant said.

It was pointed out that the 200' foot long, six-lane running track also fits within the gymnastics conditioning program.

The dome will also feature a six lane running straightaway paved in track surface material. There will be a jumping pit on the east end of the dome.

"We have the long/triple jump and pit covers for the sand pits there," Kneer said. "And on the other end, we have enough room to run pole vault events with a full pit for pole vault."

He said there would be enough safe clearance between the side of the dome and the mechanical equipment it requires and the poles the athletes use.

With softball coach D.J. DeMeyer providing input, it was determined that two varsity softball fields could fit inside the dome, opening the dome up to being used for softball tournaments during inclement weather or in conjunction with the two outdoor fields next to the dome.

Along with volleyball and soccer tournaments and other such events being held in the dome, a revenue stream could be established.

Kneer said netting could be used to allow for different events to take place at the same time, further enhancing revenue.

He showed the committee a concept design of what the dome's artificial turf would look like with several striped on it.

The design team will take the input and further enhance how the dome and the rest of the sports complex fit together in the space and bring those back to the next meeting.

The committee and school board have moved at a brisk pace since June 10, when the board voted to spend up to $5.7 million in district funds to build an indoor athletic facility.

An additional $1.2 million to fund the facility is expected to come from private donors through the Hodag Schools Foundation, including $500,000 from Dr. Lee Swank and $250,000 from the Tony and Lori Haug family.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews

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