Showing off remodeled Lake Zurich High stadium
Lake Zurich High School now has a championship-caliber football stadium to match a team that's had much on-field success.
Community leaders and others gathered Thursday night as Lake Zurich Unit District 95 board President Doug Goldberg snipped a ribbon to officially unveil the revamped stadium that's doubled in capacity to 2,483 seats on the home team's side of the field.
New seating at Mel Eide Field was part of an overall $2.4 million package of improvements for the athletic complex. District 95 Superintendent Michael Egan noted the latest work capped two years of projects in and around the stadium.
"We can seat more people, have more comfortable surroundings and celebrate our athletic teams the way they should be celebrated," Egan said.
Along with the expanded seating for Bears fans, the redone stadium features new storage units under the bleachers, a new press box and replacement of security fencing and a sidewalk.
The work also included installing new dugouts at the girls varsity softball diamond and regrading the field to get rid of a left-field hil. The athletic complex dates to the 1970s.
Lake Zurich High's football team won a state championship in 2007. The Bears finished second in the state in 2013, 2010 and 2006. In addition, the football team reached the state semifinals in 2012, 2011, 2009 and 2008.
That success has led to Lake Zurich High football being a hot ticket on Friday nights. District 95 officials said it was routine for crowds on the home side to go beyond the former 1,200 seating capacity, forcing fans to stand or sit in temporary bleachers.
Lake Zurich High Athletic Director Rolly Vazquez said some simple upgrades will be just as pleasing to fans as the new and expanded seating.
For example, a permanent walkway now runs from the seats to a south end-zone concession stand, meaning fans no longer need to traipse through mud on a rainy night for a snack.
Zion-Benton High School will play the Bears in the football debut of the stadium Friday, Sept. 18.