The Madison Consoliodated Schools Board of Trustees gave the public a sneak peek of a major facelift of the district’s athletic complex Wednesday night at a regular meeting.
On top of announcing the district would be leaving the Hoosier Hills Conference it had been a part of since 1972, Superintendent Jeff Studebaker laid out plans for a renovated football field, track and surrounding area and postulated how they might be used differently than in the past. Immediate changes will include a new artificial field on top of a concussion pad and an updated eight-lane mondo track that the district expects to be finished by Aug. 1.
The field and track combined will cost the district $1.3 million and demolition should begin in April, Studebaker said.
“We are at a crossroads, quite frankly put. If we don’t do something to help these various programs — we need to be able to show that we’re investing in programs — and it’s time. That football field is one of the very first things that people see when they come to Madison, and it is currently an embarrassment,” he said.
But outside the immediate scope of the project are plans for a new scoreboard with an updated sound and timing system and a building between the football and baseball fields that will house new locker rooms, a training facility, upgraded restrooms, upgraded concession stands, a new ticket booth and a second floor that would provide conference space and stadium seating for both the baseball and football fields. The Courier was unable to attain the estimated cost of the project by print time, but Studebaker said it would likely be covered by a mix of private dollars and this year’s construction bonds.
A preexisting LED light project funded in 2019 would cover lights at the new complex, he said.
The goal is a more versatitle facility that would also give the soccer and cross country teams a new field and practice space. Studebaker didn’t rule out the possibility of Madison hosting its own marching band competitions or generating interest in the facility as a possible site for Indiana State School Musical Association (ISSMA) regional finals.
Board President Rob Kring said the new complex would be more versatile and give student athletes a better playing field.
“I’ve been to facilities that have this kind of turf on it, and it plays very quick,” Kring said. “...It takes a facility that is just, like Dr. Studebaker said, for football and track and turns it into a multi-sport facility, so I’m excited. I can’t wait to get going.”
In addition to the upgrades,the red storage barn on the north side of the complex will be torn down and equipment will be moved to a new structure underneath the home side bleachers. Shot put circles will be built in the barn’s place. Studebaker said they were unsure where field events would take place at the moment, but the discus cage would likely need to be moved or upgraded to prevent throws from sailing into the nearby roads.
The school board also elected to rename the junior high baseball diamond Mike Modisett Field after the former baseball coach, 1971 Madison graduate and longtime groundskeeper. Varsity baseball head coach and student resources officer Tim Armstrong announced the name change and spoke on Modisett’s work ethic, crediting him for his work on the fields that allowed Madison to host the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North-South All Star Game in July of last year.
“Coach Mod puts in countless hours on all the facilities, but he’s always taken a little bit of extra pride in the junior high. In fact, I remember times when we’d finished practice and I’d look around, look for Coach Mod and he wasn’t anywhere to be found — come to find out he’s at the junior high dragging the field,” Armstrong said.
Modisett started coaching and teaching social studies at Madison in 1987, where he remained until his retimement in 2013.
In his tenure, he was varsity assistant coach to hall of fame coach Gary O’Neal for 13 years, took over as head coach for a year in 2000 when O’Neal briefly retired, then went back to assistant coaching for O’Neal for a couple years until Armstrong became head coach in 2003, Armstrong said. He helped with groundswork during his coaching career and continues to work on the fields after his retirement.
“Whenever I work on these fields...one, I want the other teams to come and say ‘man, this is how it should be done.’ And I want our kids to take pride in it, and hopefully it gives them an edge — a run or two somewhere... I thank you,” Modisett said Wednesday night.
Modisett said he had no idea he would be honored prior to the meeting. He was only told to go and answer some questions about the fields, he said.
“It was out of the blue, totally,” he said.
Also at the meeting, Director of Facilities and Special Projects Kevin Yancey gave an update on the LED lighting project that is expected to greatly reduce Madison’s energy costs.
He said lighting was recently completed at Anderson Elementary, the junior and senior high, and will soon be started at the new high school auditorium that should be completed by May 1.
The overall lighting project is expected to wrap up this month, he said.