By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
FAIRHOPE — Plans for an on-campus athletic complex at St. Michael Catholic High School have been unveiled and the school is already more than 80 percent toward its financial goal.
During the “Bringing Our Cardinals Home” rally at the school on April 1, principal Faustin Weber revealed the proposed design of the athletic complex and campus master plan. Phase one of the athletic complex includes an all-sports fieldhouse, a football/soccer field, baseball field and commons area with a pavilion, concessions, sidewalks, bathrooms, amphitheater and picnic tables.
An estimated $5 million is needed, but Weber said $4.1 million has already been raised in private solicitations. He added a private donor would give an additional $250,000 if a total of $4.75 million had been raised by the June 1 wrapup date for the “Bringing Our Cardinals Home” campaign.
The athletic complex is another step in the growth of the high school, which opened in 2016 and will hold its first graduation ceremony later this spring.
“I was talking to a couple of kids who remember our dedication ceremony in August 2016 and this feels a little bit like that and it’s our next step forward,” Weber said.
Weber stressed there is no timetable for construction to begin and money must be “in hand” and not simply in pledges.
Most of St. Michael’s 10 varsity sports teams currently compete at off-campus facilities. The Cardinals football team competes at Fairhope’s Volanta Sports Park, which also hosts Fairhope High School games and sometimes forces St. Michael to play on Thursday night instead of the traditional Friday night. The Cardinals’ baseball team plays in Loxely and soccer teams regularly play at Christ the King Catholic School in Daphne.
The school estimates nearly 70 percent of the student body plays on at least one athletic team. More than 290 students currently attend the school.
“It’s time to give our athletes a real home and a chance to prepare and grow,” school athletic director Paul Knapstein told the crowd. “No more traveling 20 miles to baseball practice, no more working out on a stage, and while we are grateful to the city of Fairhope, no more playing games on someone else’s field.”
Phase two of the proposed complex includes a softball field, a home for track and field and future athletic space for an undetermined sport. Those needs aren’t immediate as St. Michael doesn’t currently have a softball or track and field squad.
Weber also sees the complex as being beneficial to the three grade schools in Baldwin County — Christ the King and St. Benedict in Elberta and St. Patrick in Robertsdale.
“We hope this will become a local place for the three Catholic elementaries and their families so they can play some CYO games here and host other teams from Mobile,” Weber said. “We don’t want it to be just about ourselves. This is for the entire Catholic community.”