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New stadium looks like a winner

During a Monday tour of the lobby of the new stadium at Joe Quintal Field, Mitchell School District Activities Director Geoff Gross, in black, explains the work remaining to be finished. From left are: Mitchell Board of Education President Brenda Freidel, Business Manager Steve Culhane, board member Neil Putnam, Gross and board member Eric Christensen. (Ross Dolan/Republic Photo)

The best was saved for last.

The Mitchell Board of Education quickly dispatched a light agenda Monday and got on with the real business of the meeting -- a longanticipated tour of the new stadium at Joe Quintal Field.

Activities Director Geoff Gross paired with Doug McCune, project superintendent for the Puetz Corporation, to give about a half-hour tour of the spacious facility.

As board members arrived at the construction site and donned hard hats, work crews were pouring the last of the concrete sidewalks and cutting expansion joints into the rose-colored walkways at the main entrance.

Gross said the new $2.9 million stadium will see its first football action on Sept. 3 when the Mitchell Kernels take on the Brookings Bobcats.

A major innovation for better crowd control is a tunnel entry to the main stands with east and west stairways that will funnel fans into the stands more quickly.

Superintendent Joe Graves credited Building and Grounds Superintendent Greg Girard with suggesting the design change that he said will greatly improve the flow of the crowd from the concession area to the stands.

Gross was proud of the new facility.

"I just want to congratulate the school board," he said. "The decisions you made will have a lasting impact. There will be 150 years of use here, hopefully."

He joked that the massive concrete structure would be his choice of shelter in a violent storm.

Board President Brenda Friedel thanked Puetz Corporation spokesman Mark Puetz for his company's hard work in meeting a series of tight deadlines.

Crews still have considerable interior finish work to do before the Sept. 3 kickoff, but the exterior stands and the major visitors' stands on the south side of Quintal Field are ready for business. The visitors' stands were deleted from the project when construction bids came in higher than anticipated, but a last-minute, $154,000 exclusive beverage contract with Pepsi-Cola of Mitchell made it possible once again. The deal will pay for a large percentage of the project.

Gross said that on Sept. 3 game night, the stadium will be surrounded by flags borrowed from the Exchange Club, the marching band will play, and the evening's festivities will be capped with a fireworks display sponsored by the Mitchell Boosters Club.

Gross said the stadium will be officially dedicated at special ceremonies on Sept. 10.

He was especially proud of the nearly 500-square foot press box and its spacious roof-top viewing deck with an "amazing view." The deck is fitted with special non-skid rubberized matting for safety.

The field will also be used by Dakota Wesleyan University for its home games. The field's goal posts adjust from 18 feet to 24 feet to meet both high school and collegiate requirements, Gross said.

Also Monday, the board:

• Approved two open enrollment applications.

• Approved eight home schooling requests.

• Voted in favor of Steve Dick, of the West Central School District in Hartford, for the small school board of education position on the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

• Decided to postpone declaring some school property as surplus.

• Approved several personnel items.

• Approved board member committee assignments for the 2010-11 school year.