Updated: Aug. 8, 9 a.m.
Unexpected setbacks have delayed the renovation of Legends Stadium, forcing Kalispell’s high school football teams to move their upcoming season openers.
Mark Flatau, superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools, said the renovation project at the stadium will not be completed by late August as previously expected. Flatau originally said part of the reason for the delays was due to a wet spring and a few snags in the construction process. Flatau said in an updated statement that the delays are primarily due to some permitting issues as well as unexpected excavation issues.
While removing the classic dirt field, crews discovered a manhole about one foot underneath the football field. The manhole has to be removed, requiring additional time and excavation.
The new artificial turf is expected to be installed and ready for use by the first week of September, according to Flatau.
“When completed, the facility and field will be top quality, something our schools and community will be proud of,” Flatau said.
Flathead High School is slated to host Butte in the football season opener on Thursday, Aug. 24. School officials have reached out to Columbia Falls and Whitefish seeking permission to use their fields for the game, Activities Director Bryce Wilson said. After the opener, Flathead plays three straight road games before returning to Kalispell to take on Glacier on Sept. 22.
Glacier is slated to host Billings Senior on Aug. 25 in a rematch of last year’s Class AA state championship game. The Wolfpack also host Great Falls C.M. Russell on Sept. 1.
Glacier Activities Director Mark Dennehy said the plan is to either host Billings at Glacier’s practice facility located next to the high school or use Whitefish’s field, if possible. Either option could also be used for the Sept. 1 contest if necessary, Dennehy said.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that (Legends Stadium) will be ready by then,” Dennehy said.
Glacier’s practice facility doesn’t have stadium lights, which means the games would have to be played earlier in the day than the usual 7 p.m. start time. Logistics are still being worked out, Dennehy said.
Kalispell is in the process of replacing the classic dirt football field in Legends Stadium with artificial turf as part of a $958,000 renovation project. The new turf will feature a new drainage system and “Legends” displayed in each end zone. Flathead and Glacier colors will decorate the two end zones. The pole vault pit is being relocated from the field to the current location of the shot put pit, which is being moved to the west side of the complex.
When completed, the new field will be able to accommodate soccer matches as well as football games.