East Ridge athletic facilities taking shape
East Ridge High School's proximity to Woodbury's Bielenberg Sports Complex gives the new school's athletic facilities a major-college campus feel. It's almost like dropping a brand-new high school in the middle of Blaine's National Sports Center.
However, because of an agreement with the city of Woodbury, sharing Bielenberg's borders provides East Ridge student-athletes with much more than just eye-candy.
The school's shared-use agreement with the city of Woodbury allows for all of Bielenberg's current fields to be available for the Raptors' student-athletes.
Available to East Ridge will be Bielenberg's eight softball and baseball fields and six soccer and football fields, along with the eight new soccer fields projected to be on the city's Danner site, which is located on the corner of Radio Drive and Pioneer Road and which will be seeded this spring.
Other than the hockey arena, Woodbury High School does not use Bielenberg for any of its varsity teams. New Life Academy uses the soccer fields, hosts its softball games on the diamonds on the north side of the complex and currently plays its baseball on the same field -- Bielenberg No. 5 -- that the East Ridge varsity baseball team plans to use. Also, Math and Science Academy uses that same baseball field for its limited home schedule.
"The school district has an agreement with the city to share the fields," East Ridge Assistant Principal Matt Kraft said. "We can use pretty much any of their fields up to a certain time of the day and they can use all of our fields, including the stadium, after a certain time."
With no visible barriers to East Ridge's campus. the melding of Bielenberg and East Ridge's facilities, which are quickly taking shape, will be a sports sight to behold when complete.
Outside, East Ridge has its own stadium for football, soccer, track and field and lacrosse, three additional soccer fields, two football practice fields, one tennis court, one baseball field and two softball fields.
Inside, the school has a massive gymnasium/fieldhouse, a wrestling room, a gymnastics room, a weight room and four locker rooms -- including separate athletic and physical education facilities -- along with a number of storage areas, offices and even a Nordic ski-waxing room.
Unique gymnasium has 34 basketball hoops
With the ability to seat 2200 fans, East Ridge's gymnasium is a fieldhouse and gym combined, as in newer schools like Hastings, Lakeville South and Stillwater.
The gym's expansive maple floor is set up and lined for five courts -- one main court and four auxiliary courts -- each of which can each be divided by curtains.
The gym also has six scoreboards -- two large scoreboards for the main gym and one additional, smaller scoreboard for each auxiliary court. It also has a lofted mezzanine area, which will be a four-lane rubberized jogging track, between 1/6 and 1/7 of a mile around. In all, the East Ridge gym has 34 basketball hoops.
Kraft joked that in its first year, without seniors in the building, East Ridge may have more basketball hoops than players.
"It's a lot of hoops, there's no doubt about that," Kraft said. "But, if you have five teams practicing at one time, 34 hoops doesn't seem like a lot. You'll have five or six hoops per court for your shooting drills and stuff like that."
This week, lines and logos will begin to be added to the gym floor. On the center of the main court will be East Ridge's raptor logo.
Kraft believed the court would be ready for use at the end of April. However, the public is not allowed to enter the building until East Ridge receives its certificate of occupancy, which will be in July.
Top-loading stadium will host football, soccer, track and lacrosse teams
The main attraction outside of East Ridge will undoubtedly be its stadium.
However, look closely or you may miss it.
Positioned at the bottom of a hill, and almost lost amidst the numerous fields of the East Ridge campus and the Bielenberg Sports Complex, is the school's stadium -- located a parking lot across from the Activity Center entrance.
The top-loading stadium opens before your eyes as you approach its main entrance, on the 50-yard line of the field's south side.
The future home of the Raptors' football, soccer, track and lacrosse teams, the field -- which will be composed from the same turf as at Woodbury High School -- is surrounded by a nine-lane track. On the east side of the field will be the scoreboard. On the west side are the team rooms, along with the visitors' bathrooms and concessions stand. The stadium's visiting team stands are located on the north side of the field, opposite the entrance.
The stadium's home stands -- also the exact same as Woodbury's home stands -- are on the entrance side of the stadium along with a concessions area and press box. The home stands have black and gold internal panels, which will be visible from the bottom of the stands and from the field.
Kraft can't wait to see them filled with fans.
"Realistically, for a lot of people in the community, especially if they have young kids, they come to a high school and they want to see the stadium and the gym," Kraft said. "The stadium, the gym and the auditorium are really going to be nice places for the community to see and to use. We're pretty proud of them here."