The Southwest Foundation launched a campaign in March to bring Friday night lights to Southwest High School’s athletics field by next school year.
Southwest alumnus Harvey Feldman, class of ’61, pledged to match donations up to $300,000 to install permanent lighting on the school’s outdoor field, used for track, football and soccer events. Except for rare instances when the school has rented temporary lights — including the football team’s 2011 homecoming game — Southwest’s home field athletic events must be scheduled during daylight hours.
Christa Anders of the Southwest Foundation said Feldman was inspired by attending that 2011 homecoming game and his own memories of playing football under the lights at Parade Stadium to propose the dollar-for-dollar fundraising match. The installation of permanent lighting is estimated to cost $300,000, and any money raised beyond that amount would be redirected toward other stadium upgrades, Anders said.
She said the plan also calls for renaming the athletic field after two former Southwest High School coaches, Art Fredrickson and Dave Peterson.
Fredrickson, a former football, girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ golf coach, was inducted into the Minnesota High School Football Association Hall of Fame in 1988. Peterson entered the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association in 1991 and had an annual high school hockey coach’s award named in his honor. In addition to coaching at Southwest for 25 years, he coached two Olympic teams in 1988 and 1992, three U.S. national teams and two U.S. junior national teams.
The foundation hired Golden Valley firm Anderson-Johnson Associates to install the lights. If the fundraising drive is successful, the lights will be installed this summer so that they’re in place for the start of the fall sports season.
If the fundraising campaign surpasses its goal, additional funds could go toward a new scoreboard, improvements to the concession stands and tickets booths, a renovation of the field’s entrance or other long-range improvement projects, Anders said.
The fundraising campaign, dubbed Turn on the Lights, gets its official launch 6 p.m.–10 p.m. March 16 at the Atlas Grill, 200 S. 6th St. Tickets to the event are $40 and can be purchased at the school or by calling 668-3035.
Southwest Foundation representatives plan to attend the March 13 Fulton Neighborhood Association meeting for a public question-and-answer session on the project. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Pershing Park, 3523 W. 48th St.
For more information on the campaign, go to www.facebook.com/SWHSTurnOnTheLights.