|Since mid-August, the Monmouth College Fighting Scots football team has been on the new synthetic FieldTurf at April Zorn Memorial Stadium on an almost daily basis, including a scrimmage last weekend that was played under the facility's new lights.
Other parts of the sparkling new venue, including home and visitor seating and a 120-foot long press box, received their first use during last fall's record-breaking football season.
But this weekend, the college's $4.2 million April Zorn Memorial Stadium will finally become "official," as it will be formally dedicated September 5th at 10:30 a.m., prior to the Scots' season opener against Loras College at 1 p.m. A hospitality tent located behind the press box will open at 11:30 a.m.
The game will mark the conclusion of a busy weekend related to the new stadium, which is named for April Zorn Huff, the late wife of Walter S. Huff Jr. Both were MC students in the 1950s.
"April was very fond of Monmouth College football," said Huff, a 1956 graduate who also donated the naming gift for the college's Huff Athletic Center. "That fondness goes back to her days as a student, when she participated in the Pep Club and school band. She enjoyed going to football games, whether it be high school, college or professional games."
After graduating from Monmouth in 1959, Zorn taught in Peoria and Highland Park and earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Illinois. She took time out from her career to raise two children, then returned to teaching in California in 1994. She died on Nov. 17, 2007, after a battle with cancer.
The first phase of the stadium renovation, completed last summer, improved the football experience for fans and support staff. New seating was constructed on both sidelines, and a state-of-the-art press box, with improved webcasting capabilities, was built. Those capabilities were especially appreciated by Fighting Scots fans who were unable to make it campus for one or both of the NCAA playoffs games that Monmouth hosted.
The second phase primarily benefits the players and coaches, as synthetic FieldTurf has replaced a grass playing surface. Fans, of course, will most notice the change on game days, but the players are able to practice on it every day.
Besides hosting football practices and games, April Zorn Memorial Stadium will also benefit the college's intramural programs and its marching band. The track also received a new surface as part of the second phase of the construction, paving the way for use by the college's nationally-ranked track teams next spring.
Although the completed April Zorn Memorial Stadium is yet to host an official game, it has already earned an award, as college officials accepted a Lorraine D. Wright Construction Award for the project this summer.
(Monmouth College Athletics)