In many ways, it is a stadium befitting a college campus, with a scoreboard to match.
But it’s location is nowhere near a college or university. Rather, it’s at Monticello High School.
The new Monticello Memorial Stadium and surrounding complex, which is set to host its first grand event this Friday, is being hailed as a community asset and a complex that not just the school, but the entire town can be proud of.
Monticello Athletic Director Gary Revenig is hoping that many of those townspeople come out Friday night to see the first varsity football game at the new stadium, as Monticello hosts the defending state champion Elk River Elks at 7 p.m.
It won’t be the first event at the stadium, which has already held an opening ceremony, and several soccer games, but it is expected to be the biggest crowd yet at the 4,000 person capacity complex.
“I can’t wait,” said Revenig. “We’re hoping for a huge crowd and fun atmosphere.”
Building a stadium had been at the top of Revenig’s to-do list since he took over as athletic director eight years ago. It become a reality two years ago, when district voters helped pass a referendum to improve and renovate buildings around the school district, including funding for a new athletic complex on the high school grounds.
Monti didn’t aim for an OK stadium. Rather they went all-in, building a venue that they believe will attract section contests and other events for years and years to come.
The stadium seats 3,000 comfortably, including 2,000 people on the home side. There is also a four-foot fence surrounding the field, providing standing room for many more. And in the event that more seating may be needed for a big game, Monti has the option to bring portable bleachers in as well.
The complex also has permanent bathrooms, a concession and ticket stand, storage rooms, and two team rooms, as well as a press box at the top of the home bleachers.
Revenig said Monti already has two section football games lined up at the stadium, and he’s expecting more teams and sports to sign up in the near future.
“The comments I’m hearing so far from soccer coaches are that it’s an absolutely beautiful stadium,” he said. “I think once teams see it they’re going to want to come here too.”
One of the brightest features at the stadium is the new scoreboard, which was funded solely through advertising partners, who will each get spots on the screen during breaks in athletic contests. It is the second biggest scoreboard in the state at the high school level, behind only Eden Prairie.
The sound system isn’t too shabby either. Revenig told the gathered crowd at the stadium open house that the single speaker, which is hidden behind a Monticello sign at the top of the scoreboard, is made for a stadium that can hold up to 15,000 people.
Revenig said that he would’ve loved to have gotten the project done years ago for all of the kids that have already graduated MHS since he started here, but he’s happy that it’s here now.
“I hear a lot of comments just walking through our practices and stuff how much they love it and how much fun it is,” said Revenig. “It’s everything I thought it would be. I’m just glad it’s finally here.”
Jason Telecky, Monticello’s head football coach, said his players are looking forward to their first time in front of the home crowd at the new stadium with the perfect turf surface.
“I think it’s going to be really exciting for the guys,” said Telecky. “I think it’s going to be fun, and I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing.”
Telecky said that practicing on turf has been an adjustment for the team, but he’s hopeful it will work as an advantage for Monti when other teams come into town.
“It’s enables you to play a little bit faster,” said Telecky. “It’s got a different feel.”
But above all, he said it’s a truly impressive environment for high school athletics.
“It is amazing,” said Telecky. “These kids are getting a college experience at the high school level.”
Monticello will welcome the Elks at 7 p.m. Friday for the first football game at the new field. Revenig said that the gates will open at 5 p.m., and vendors from Papa John’s, Von Hanson’s, and Culver’s will be on hand to provide food. There will also be regular concessions for sale. Revenig welcomes fans to arrive early, and take some time to walk around the stadium and see the new facilities before settling into the bleachers for kickoff.
“This is a beautiful stadium,” said Revenig. “It’s a special thing, and we’re fortunate to have it.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]