May 2, 2022

The initiative to upgrade T.T. Cranny Field at Grinnell High School, like so many other private and public projects, has encountered a significant cost increase due to pandemic-related workforce and supply chain issues. In response the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and the Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation have partnered to establish a $100,000 matching gift challenge with the goal of encouraging Grinnell families, friends, and businesses to make contributions.

The effort began in the fall of 2021 when the Grinnell Tiger Football Club proposed a project to install all-weather field turf on the GHS football field and to make other upgrades. Estimated cost of the turf project was $1.2 million. In discussion with the school board, Mark and Paul Kolpin of the Tiger Club predicted the club could raise $600,000 in private contributions toward the turf project, and the school board agreed to fund the rest of the turf project.

The turf portion of the project, designated Phase 1, will widen the football field so both football and soccer can be played on the field, bringing soccer back to the high school setting and providing a lighted venue for night matches. Practices and performances of the GHS marching band are now weather-dependent since natural grass when soaked is not a surface the band can use. Turf will enable practices and performances regardless of weather and make hosting of band tournaments possible.

GHS physical education classes will receive a similar benefit from all-weather turf since classes can use the new surface regardless of soil conditions and will benefit from having football and soccer field markings imbedded into the field turf. The Grinnell recreation department will also be able to use the new soccer field.

Phase 2 of the improvement project included plans to beautify the field entrance area, install a multi-function building adjacent to the stadium, install a modern video scoreboard and improve other items around the stadium campus as available funds allowed.

The private fundraising effort reached the $600,000 goal in late 2021, and the school board sought bids for the field turf project in January of 2022, planning for the field to be ready for the annual fall scrimmage on Aug. 12 or for the first home football game on Aug. 26. The low bid was $1.6 million, $400,000 higher than the estimated cost, and the board awarded the bid, deciding to cover the additional, unanticipated cost.

According to Mark Kolpin of the Grinnell Tiger Club, the goal of the private fundraising effort was to cover the cost of as many of the Phase 2 amenities as possible. Private fundraising to date has raised about $100,00 of the estimated $500,000 cost of those amenities.

The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and the Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation are jointly issuing a matching challenge of $100,000, pledging to match contributions toward the Phase 2 projects up to $100,000.

Julie Gosselink, president and CEO of the Ahrens Foundation says, “Our foundation serves to better the Grinnell community, especially regarding recreational opportunities. Supporting the renovation project not only helps provide much-needed funding but also offers a safer and more stable venue for participants.”

According to Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation president Jeff Menary, partnering with the Ahrens Foundation allows the two groups to leverage this funding opportunity.

“This challenge grant shows our support for the schools and invites friends of the Grinnell-Newburg School District to double the impact with their donations,” Menary adds. “The usability and aesthetic benefits of the new field serve not only the students but improve the attractiveness of our community for potential residents.”

Kolpin notes that the Phase 2 improvements are a series of projects which can be performed when funds are available. With turf the focus of the 2022 work, he says other amenities are now planned for the summer of 2023 to be completed before that football season opens.

The proposed new entrance will feature inscribed bricks and a donor wall, and donations for those will be accepted through the 2022 football season so orders can be placed for installation in 2023.

Small bricks cost $250 and allow three lines of text up to 12 characters apiece. Large bricks are $500 and allow up to six lines of 12 characters. Contributions over $1,000 earn both a brick and listing on a donor wall.