St. Francis is well on its way to breaking in its gleaming new stadium Aug. 30, opening night of the football season.
The bleachers and press box are already good to go, and the installation of the FieldTurf is due to be completed by Aug. 13.
St. Francis president Tom Bednar said enthusiasm is mounting as the school nears the unveiling of Kuhn Memorial Stadium for the Spartans football team’s season opener against Riverside-Brookfield.
“It’s huge,” Bednar said. “Just tremendous. The excitement as people see the progress as we send out pictures on Twitter and post on Facebook and on our website, it’s created a great buzz of anticipation, so we’re looking forward to this.”
Bednar said the bleacher capacity of the new stadium is about 1,500, with all but 350 of that sum coming on the home side. The school’s old stadium – before losing its usefulness because of drainage problems – only had about 600 seats, Bednar said. St. Francis had to play its home football and soccer games off-site in recent years.
Bednar called the new stadium “really beautiful” and said it makes “a high visual impact” as visitors curve around the school’s Spyglass Athletic Center.
Once photos can be taken of the finished product in action, you can bet that St. Francis will put the images to good use in promotional literature.
“I think the impact will be very significant for just providing state-of-the-art facilities that people look at, especially in private schools, with paying additional tuition on top of property taxes that support public schools,” Bednar said.
St. Francis broke ground on the stadium May 14. Ron and Theresa Kuhn, of St. Charles, were credited for helping make the project possible through their philanthropy.
The stadium’s official dedication will take place between the sophomore and varsity football games Aug. 30.
The new Scott Nelson Track is also part of the project. Nelson has coached track at the school for 25 years despite the absence of a home track for practices or meets.
The track surface might not be completed until mid-September, Bednar said, but track and field is a spring sport. The stadium project is being handled by Northern Builders, Inc., out of Schiller Park.
Change of plans for Jungles: St. Francis baseball’s Brett Jungles committed Thursday to play collegiately at Webster University, a Division III program located in suburban St. Louis, marking a reversal of course for the Spartans’ catcher.
A second-team Chronicle All-Area selection as a senior, Jungles originally planned to try and walk-on the baseball team at the University of Dayton, but he drew late interest from Webster while playing in a tournament with his travel team, DuPage Training Academy, during Fourth of July weekend.
Jungles said it was a tough call because he planned on rooming with a friend from St. Francis at Dayton, but he reached out one more time to Dayton’s coaching staff, and there were no guarantees he’d be part of the team.
“When I heard that, it made the decision a lot easier, and I figured I’d not give up the game, and chase the dream for four more years,” Jungles said.
Jungles’ recruitment was interrupted by labrum surgery that cost him much of his senior season. He returned ahead of schedule on May 2, and helped lead the Spartans to a second-place state finish in Class 3A.
Jungles caught for the Spartans and played second base for his travel team but said he’s likely to start his college career as an outfielder.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.