It was the night the lights shined on the Ripon Christian Athletic Stadium.
Alumni, community members and supporters of the school witnessed the historic first-ever Friday night lights on campus during the soft opening or sneak preview of the $1.2 million facility.
“We’re excited about the stadium,” Knights head football coach Trey Ozenbaugh at the casual occasion.
He believes this 1,500-seat complex will be the legacy of those involved with the program, including the Athletic Stadium Committee.
“It will be an asset to the school,” said Bill Kamps, who is one of Ozenbaugh’s assistant coaches and part of the group. “Long after we’re gone, this will still be here.”
The Athletic Stadium Committee looked at various stadiums throughout Northern California for inspiration of the RC stadium, Knights assistant coach Eddie Erdelatz said.
For example, the north end of the field was purposely designed without the fencing – saved for the student body – while dipping on to the field was actually borrowed from nearby St. Mary’s High.
“The home field seats are elevated five feet above the playing field,” noted Erdelatz, who is also a stadium committee member. “That’s very similar to (Spanos Stadium) at Lincoln High.”
About 850 plants were brought in – along with several custom shaped boulders – as part of the landscape.
The scoreboard on the south end zone is already up and will have a matching facade to go with the rest of the stadium.
The one big feature will be a large 50-foot cross with lights shining on it just right of the scoreboard. “It’s the heart and soul of our school,” Erdelatz said.
The press box is still under construction and could hold things up for the opening of the preseason sports schedule. The school has nearby Stouffer Field as a standby Plan B.
The natural grass surface is equipped with a sophisticated draining and irrigation system, using non-potable water.
The outside stadium mezzanine ties in with the softball complex and was designed to take advantage of the restroom facilities and concessions when spring sports roll around. A water fountain feature is also planned for the area.
The stadium group is excited about the field house or team room with lockers featuring the pull-up firehouse door.
Adjacent to that will be a 47-stall parking lot for players, coaches and their families.
The facility, in addition, has state-of-the-art technology, including fiber optics and Wi-Fi hookup.
Erdelatz said the stadium already has the feel of a bowl and action on the playing field will be in close proximity to the spectators.
Donations have made possible the construction of the stadium, with the plans first going before the Planning Commission in 2012.
Another $75,000 is still needed to complete the project, according to the stadium group.