It was impossible not to notice all mud. It was everywhere. But while Forrest Bergin sat in the stands at Tenino High School’s Beaver Stadium last fall taking in a Beavers football game, it wasn’t long before his attention shifted from the filth to the players’ faces.
They were defeated.
Bergin knew improvements had to be made as the last time any significant upgrades were made to the stadium were way back in 1989 – the year it was constructed.
So, after the game he went home and immediately typed up an email to Tenino School District superintendent Joe Belmonte detailing his concerns, his desire for modifications and what he believed would be the best plan of attack.
“I sat on an email for three days before I hit the send button,” Bergin stated. “Knowing if I sent it, I would be involved.”
And that he was.
Belmonte’s reply was swift, calling the timing perfect and extending an offer for Bergin and him to meet.
In a day when the large majority of high school sports facilities now feature the latest in synthetic field turf, providing a safer, more cost-effective environment for players, Tenino was one of the few remaining still sporting the natural look.
Bergin is leading the charge to change all that with the creation of the Tenino Stadium Field Project.
The renovation project will address several needs for the stadium, including replacement of the existing natural turf field with an artificial/synthetic turf system suitable for multi-purpose sport use, replacement of the existing eight-lane track, an upgrade to the existing lighting, replacement of the existing scoreboard, an upgrade to the current sound system and renovation of the existing stadium entrance, among other items.
“The appeal was getting rid of the mud making the field more playable for a longer season and more availability for other teams and activities,” Bergin said. “From the financial aspect, we will save money in maintenance, reduce our watering needs and reduce our electrical requirements with the LED lighting.”
Joining Bergin and Belmonte on the project team is Tenino High School principal Garry Cameron, Troy Cannon of Tenino Public Works, Tenino School District maintenance operations supervisor Glenn Fleming and Andrew Bowerly, who spearheads the group’s online and social media presence.
“One of the biggest obstacles was money, of course. It was a roller coaster of go’s and no go’s and finally we came up with a plan to split it out in phases,” Bergin said. “The field being phase one and track and parking lot phase two.”
According to Bergin, the project received sponsorship from TransAlta ($181,000), Hellas Construction ($85,000), the Adam Craig Foundation (Four Square Mile Music Festival), Edward Jones, Tenino Telephone Company, Delphi Excavating, Cannon and his wife, Greg Shoop, Jason Plaja CHS/Cenex and Lakeside Industries.
“I will be honest, when Mr. Belmonte came to me and said I think we can make it work, I got butterflies in my stomach and I said, ‘Are you sure? Because I don’t want to break the bank or the district,’” Bergin said. “He explained to me that we can do this through capital funds from the district, which includes revenue from the district’s current capital levy.”
Bergin added that state law indicates capital funds can only be spent on facility improvements or new buildings and cannot be used on the district’s operations.
“Right now, without the other possible grant money that will likely come through, the total cost for the school district’s portion will be about $60,000 for the lighting upgrade,” Bergin said. “As for the field replacement, the total cost of the project is estimated at $1.2 million.”
The project, currently in phase one, continues to seek out more sponsorships and donations to help cover the additional phases not covered by the “field money.”
Sponsorship packages range from diamond level ($10,000 plus) to a $100 pave the way level, which provides the donator with a custom engraved brick that will be utilized within the stadium.
“We envision the field being used longer into the seasons for football, soccer, marching band completions as well as other various youth activities that can use the field,” Bergin said. “We hope that it will alleviate some of the other synthetic fields that are around the area and open up availability for other events as well.”
Over the upcoming weeks, Hellas Construction will begin laying the turf followed by the addition of a new scoreboard.
“My daughter went through the Tenino School District and now my son is half way through,” Bergin said. “I want the best for my kids. I want the best for my friend’s kids, my neighbor’s kids, we all want the best for our kids to help them be successful. I’m just excided for the kids, the staff and community. Great things are happening in Tenino and I can’t wait for what the future holds.”