HSF surpasses $2 million fundraising goal
Star Journal Staff
In the 18 months since Dr. Lee Swank gifted the Hodag Schools Foundation (HSF) $500,000 in seed money to build an indoor sports facility in Rhinelander, HSF has raised more than its $2 million goal toward the Hodag Dome and sports complex.
“In these uncertain times, we are thrilled to provide positive news,” said HSF president David Heck. “We are so thankful to all donors that made this happen. In addition, we are grateful for the School Board and Administration commitment to make this investment for the future of Rhinelander.”
The permanent air-supported dome will be unique to the northern part of the state and is expected to provide benefits for students, the community, and the economy. Heck said he and several HSF representatives toured facilities before bringing a proposal to the school board.
“After visiting a dome in Minneapolis, we got in the car and were in absolute awe of what a facility of this type could do for our community,” Heck stated. “And not just for activities. In fact, the first thing the Principal said from the district we visited was how much of a mental health improvement they saw in kids due to being able to see green grass and increased light. Instead of being stuck inside during the cold and dark in the winter with electronics, kids can play, get active, learn and use these facilities.”
According to HSF, the Hodag Dome complex will be the largest high school dome in the country with more than 128,000 square feet. In addition, it will be one of the largest domes in all of North America, and in the top 10% of the entire world to include turf for soccer, football, track, pole vaulting, baseball, softball, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, basketball and seasonal gymnastics. It will also provide space for community events such as trade shows, community gatherings and more.
The Hodag Dome complex will include improvements outside, with softball fields, a baseball field and practice fields.
“Economically, it is estimated that these improvements will bring in over $1 million annually to our area from restaurants, hotels, movie theatre, gas stations and the like,” Heck said. “Rhinelander, the ‘Hub of the Northwoods,’ will likely see a dramatic improvement in economic progress with these facilities. This will not only help students but also attract and retain families and businesses.”
School District of Rhinelander activities director and HSF board member Brian Paulson said a 12-team wrestling invitational is scheduled for December and possibly a 17-team softball tournament in March.
HSF is continuing to raise money to potentially fund the purchase of sports courts which can interchange surfaces between basketball, volleyball and tennis; indoor golf improvements are also being discussed.
An open house and dedication are planned for the fall.