Hormel gives #036;1M to work at Wescott

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2000

History got one step closer to changing at Wescott Field Thursday.

Friday, November 03, 2000

History got one step closer to changing at Wescott Field Thursday.

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"When you look on the walls here, you see ‘AH,’" Austin schools Superintendent Dr. James Hess said. "It could stand for Austin High or it could also stand for Austin history. We’re making more history today."

Flanked by members of each of Austin High School’s athletic teams, Hormel Foods Corp. helped the Wescott Field improvement project committee get one giant step closer to its goal Thursday.

The committee hopes to raise $4.2 million over the next three years to fund a complete overhaul of facilities at Austin’s historic sports complex, and Hormel wiped out nearly a fourth of the estimated cost with a $1 million donation.

"Wescott has been a crown jewel of athletic fields in Minnesota," Allan Krejci, Hormel vice president of public relations, said. "We’re hoping our gift will spur other businesses and alumni to give toward the renovation of Wescott Field."

The renovation plan will be funded entirely by private donations. Committee members said asking for tax dollars never was a strong consideration after public tax dollars were used to help a refurbishing of Austin High School.

"Just as Hormel stepped forward with the high school project, it stepped forward right at the onset of this project," school board Chairman David Simonson said.

The renovation plan calls for a new running track and improvements to the locker rooms, bathrooms and seating areas at Wescott. It also calls for new tennis courts and widening the existing football field to accommodate a regulation-sized soccer field.

"It’s nice to see this addition to Wescott," senior football captain Brett Hovey said. "This place is like home to a lot of (athletes) and it’s always nice when your home gets repaired."

Committee members also encouraged citizens of Austin to contribute to the fund-raising efforts, noting this project will be difficult to accomplish without the community’s support.

"Wescott Field is a place that touches the lives of everybody in Austin," Al Eckmann, co-chairman of the fund-raising steering committee, said. "We’re happy to make it a better place for the whole community."