School district selects firm for stadium master plan

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A rendering shows how a new stadium would be oriented relative to the high school’s current track.

Kalispell-based CTA Architects will guide Whitefish School District in shaping a future Bulldogs sports complex at Whitefish High.

The Whitefish School Board last week voted unanimously to approve a recommendation from the WHS Stadium Core Team to hire the firm. CTA will work with the district for the master planning phase, during which the scope of the project will be evaluated and a plan put in place to see the project through.

“The master planning phase is to help us map out those figures that we saw and how it’s all going to line up, and what conceptually could this thing look like?” WHS Principal Kerry Drown said. “We were very happy with the process, very happy with the quality of the applicants, as well as the end result.”

The Bulldog Booster Club last fall came to the district with the plan to construct a new, privately-funded sports complex.

The core team consists of seven members, including Drown; Aric Harris, Activities Director; Lucie Shea, Business Clerk; Chad Smith, Maintenance Director; Derek Schulz, coaches representative; Ruth Harrison, School Board Trustee; and Joe Akey, WHS Booster Club President.

Eight architectural firms submitted proposals to the district for the master plan. The core team narrowed those down to four and ultimately recommended CTA for the job.

CTA Architects has worked on similar projects in the past, including stadiums at CMR Russell in Great Falls and Bozeman High School.

CTA said the hope is that with an aggressive schedule, the facility would be available for use by fall of 2021. That timeline depends on funding availability, however, but the master plan phase should last a few months.

The board in January approved a request to begin fundraising for the project.

The complex, which is hoped to be planned and funded by 2020, and would be located east of Whitefish High School is expected to include a turf field, new 10-lane track, a remodeled wrestling facility and seating for about 4,000-plus spectators.

The estimated price tag for the project sits at about $6 million. The stadium grandstands would be the biggest portion of that figure at $2.5 million, and the track and turf would each run about $1 million.

Right now Whitefish sports are scattered, with track and field using the existing track at the high school, soccer leasing out fields at Smith Fields for their games and practices and the district leasing the outfield at Memorial Field for football games.

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