MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KCRG) — For decades, athletes and school club members have had to travel all over Mount Vernon to attend their own home games and fixtures. In less than three years, the land behind the high school building will be transformed into a $5.5 million sports complex. It’s part of a facilities plan that many Mount Vernon residents agree with. Mount Vernon Varsity Boys athletics coach Ryan Whitman recalls his days on the team in the early 2000s.
“I raced on the track that is there and I actually remember racing on the old track where there are no lights, no concession stands, no restrooms,” said Whitman. Like many other former athletes, he is delighted that future students will have the chance to use a brand new facility.
“They can run on an awesome facility and run great times, I’m really super excited that our kids can do that,” Whitman said.
Superintendent Greg Batenhorst says even with the overwhelming support, some former students still have personal and emotional connections to the old facilities. Places like the Old Football Field, which many affectionately call the Bellamy Bowl.
“We totally understand that and appreciate it because there’s a ton of history and nostalgia there,” Batenhorst told TV-9. “But it just doesn’t meet our needs.” The complex will include a grass field, a nine-lane track and other amenities. Scheduled to be completed by fall 2024, Batenhorst says his funding has three parts.
“We plan to use physical facilities and equipment, the PPEL money that we have saved. Second, we are considering taking out a loan from our PPEL funds, and we are also doing private fundraising for this project,” Batenhorst said. As for the reactions of current students, activities director Matt Thede says their reactions are unanimous.
“They said that even though we wouldn’t get the chance to be in this field, we’re excited for future Mustangs for our younger siblings, who will have an opportunity.”
Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.