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More than 100 Years of History: Community rallies to update aging stadium

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jun 04, 2024

A community effort continues in Menominee, Mich., to upgrade the public school's football stadium, which was built in 1920, said Dave Mathiew, an assistant varsity football coach at the school.

  • Walton Blesch Stadium, part of Menominee Area Public Schools, is more than 100 years old, said Dave Mathiew, an assistant varsity football coach at the school
  • The concrete in the stadium is past its viable life, Mathiew said
  • Fundraising continues, but enough has been raised to replace the bleachers for next football season, Mathiew said

Our part of the country knows about football stadiums with a story.
And Walton Blesch Stadium in Menominee is one of them.

"The players [in the 1930s or '40s] would march into the stadium and hand a little kid their helmet, and the little kid would carry in the helmet for the player, and that was their free ticket for the game," said Dave Mathiew, an assitant coach on the Menominee Maroons varsity football team.

Mathiew has been part of the coaching staff for more than 30 years, and is part of a fundraising effort with goals including replacing the stadium's aging bleachers.

"The viable lifespan of concrete is 100 years, and this stadium is 104 years old, so it was time to do something to try to make it safe so we can make sure we can play football here at Walton Blesch Stadium for good," Mathiew said.

The Walton Blesch Stadium Legacy Foundation is raising the money and is more than halfway to their goal of about $700,000, Mathiew said.

They have raised enough right now to replace the bleachers for next football season, but are still trying to raise money to finish out the project, Mathiew said.

"...[T]he donor boards, and some of the more cosmetic things, it might take a little longer to get that stuff done as we keep raising money," Mathiew said.

Menominee Area Public Schools Superintendent Drew Buyarski played for the Maroons as a student in the District.

Buyarski said the District budget simply couldn't cover the stadium upgrades, and all of the money for the project is from outside donations.

"Knowing that we have the support of the community like that is a great thing," Buyarski said.

To donate to the effort, you can visit this website.