Dorais Field is a center for high school athletics in Chippewa Falls.
Upgrades this summer hope to keep it that way.
A project to put in a new infield turf and resurface the track is underway as the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District looks to keep the facility in great condition for high school football, soccer and track and field.
This will be the district’s only major project for the athletic programs this summer, Chi-Hi Athletic Director Mike Thompson said.
In addition to boundary lines for soccer and football’s standard 11-man dimension, Dorais will have 8-man lines added as the McDonell athletic program has made a commitment to continue in the ever-growing adaption of high school football.
“To my knowledge we’re the only field in the state that has football, soccer and 8-man football lines,” Thompson said.
The old track surface has been removed and the old turf is expected to be taken away soon. In July, Thompson said the new track will be placed with the current date of completion for both parts of the project scheduled to be done by Aug. 5. This would be just in time for the earliest day of high school football practice in Wisconsin on Aug. 6. Chi-Hi is set to host a scrimmage at Dorais Field with New Richmond and Sparta on Aug. 16.
The turf was first installed as part of a facilities renovation project in 2007 as the field was resurfaced and new bleachers were added. Thompson said the community quickly got involved when fundraising begin with the desire to upgrade the field and seating area. This dedication from individuals in the city has made making Dorais something to be used by all in the community an important decision.
With Chi-Hi boys and girls soccer, Chi-Hi and McDonell track and field and Chi-Hi and McDonell football using Dorais, keeping the field and track in ideal condition was a priority as the turf field is a few years past its standard life expectancy, according to Thompson.
As McDonell makes a full-time commitment to 8-man football, that became the main factor in adding addition lines on the field.
“Considering that field is something that both schools use, then we thought it was the right time to do it,” Thompson said.
The 8-man football field is 40 yards wide and 80 yards long from goal line to goal line, making it 13.33 yards narrower and 20 yards shorter than a standard football field. A year after canceling its football season in 2017, McDonell made the change official last season. Having played an independent schedule last year, the Macks could be better situated for stability with the WIAA working through the process of adopting eight conferences of six teams apiece as 8-man football continues to grow in the state.
“It is a partnership in the community that goes long before I got here,” McDonell Athletic Director Eric Gardow said of Dorais Field.
McDonell is expecting to see a rise in the number of students out for football this year and, for the first time, will play a full 8-man schedule at the middle school level.
“We’re committed to it now. Football is here to stay, we’ll be at 8-man and it’s great,” Gardow said. “There’s other schools in our (new) conference making that transition as well. It’s here to stay and we’re proud of that.
“To have Dorais and share Dorais with our community and Chi-Hi neighbors is going to be fantastic,” Gardow said.