Immaculate Conception has received approval from the Diocese of Joliet to begin construction of a multi-phased renovation to the athletic facilities at Plunkett Field.
A turf field will be installed as part of the first phase and will provide an upgraded playing surface for IC’s football, soccer, baseball, lacrosse and softball teams. Digging will begin on April 15 and the turf field is scheduled to be completed in time for the fall 2013 sports season.
“It will be great for us,” IC football coach Bill Krefft said. “I can’t wait to be able to practice and play on our own turf and never have to worry about tearing our facilities up anymore. It will allow us to get a good practice in regardless of the weather.”
The first phase is estimated to cost $2.1 million, but is not the end of the project. IC is still accepting donations for further funding of the project with lighting, a new entranceway, new seating and new concession and restroom facilities also planned.
IC Grade School and IC High School both use Plunkett. Currently football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse use the facility, but softball would also be able to take advantage of the turf on occasion thanks to a turf infield and removable mound on the baseball field.
The idea for the upgrade began five years ago, but the process really started last year with planning committees figuring out what needed to be upgraded on the IC campus. Plunkett Field was regarded as a priority.
The upgrades will cut down on maintenance costs and add more scheduling flexibility, but Plunkett would also serve as a showcase for the school. The new entrance from West Avenue would be more visible.
“We’re looking for people who have gone by that facility for how many years now that when they go by it now they won’t even recognize it,” IC athletic director Tom Schergen said. “It’s a complete facelift. We’re changing the entrance, we’re changing what people see when they see it from the outside.”
Most of the money raised so far has come from private donations, but they also received money from grants, including one from USA Football, Schergen said. IC is still fundraising with the hope of raising enough money to add the lights during the summer construction.
“They’re putting out a thing right now trying to raise money for the lights because we’d like to put the lights in this summer with the turf while everything is all dug up,” Schergen said. “We’re still fundraising for it. We just got to a point that we raised enough money to begin the project.”