DENVER — Denver High School’s cramped gym and stage will soon be displaced by a new venue for student performances and competitions.
For the past year, the $10.4 million Cyclone athletics and fine arts complex has been under construction next to Denver Community Schools’ sports fields, about a half mile from campus. And it’s close to being done.
In recent weeks, workers have been busy completing the building’s interior, particularly the 500-seat auditorium.
DENVER — Superintendent Brad Laures knew when the precast concrete walls of Denver Community Schools’ new auditorium arrived in town.
“We’re not too far away from having students coming in,” said Superintendent Brad Laures during a recent tour of the facility near Donna and Schneider streets.
The fall play will be held there Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. A week later, the public will be invited to the building’s dedication. District residents will then have plenty of opportunities to make use of the facilities.
“The community will have access to get in here,” said Laures.
People will enter on the north end of the building into a two-story lobby with walls made of glass.
Nearby stairs and an elevator will take people to the 200-meter walking track that circles the gymnasium below.
A bank of windows along one wall of the track looks out onto the lobby.
“This will be a publicly accessible walking track,” said Scott Krebsbach, president of the Board of Education. “There will be open hours for the public.”
Community members also will be able to use the weight training and cardiovascular equipment in and next to the weight room on the second floor.
A press box overlooking the football field and track on the east side of the building accessed from the second floor, as well. The space — which has room for reporters, announcers and coaches — has been in use this fall. It is named for longtime resident and community booster Art Kurtt.(tncms-asset)0a84b012-c00f-11e7-a2d8-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Students put their mark on the building via three exposed steel beams at the top of the stairs outside of the second floor doorway. Children signed their names on beams earlier in the building process. In the case of elementary school students, each class covered whole sections of the beams with their signatures.
Coordinating that process is “one of the things that I am most proud of,” said Krebsbach. “It’s something they’re going to be able to look at, they’ll see, for the rest of their lives.”
The gym and locker rooms are on the east side of the complex. Four playing courts in the gym can be used for practices and recreational sports. Those are contained in two competition courts for varsity and junior varsity sports.
The courts will be divided by a stack of bleachers that will seat the hometown crowd on the varsity gym side. On the other side of the court will be seating for the opposing team. More seating will be available for the junior varsity court.
All together, the gym will be able to seat up to 1.500 people.
The auditorium, on the west side of the complex, contains stadium-style seating designed to create clear sight lines to the stage for audience members. It was built with performances in mind, unlike the current space in the high school’s gym.
“Our fine arts kids have taken a back seat for way too long,” said Laures, of the need for the auditorium. “It was designed acoustically whereas a gym isn’t designed acoustically.”
The community is responsible for funding the new facility. A $7.2 million bond issue was approved by voters in February 2016 and will be repaid through increased property taxes. The district is also using $1.5 million in 1 percent sales tax revenues and $500,000 in physical plant and equipment levy funds.
The remaining $1.2 million is being covered through a fundraising campaign. “There are two key donors that stepped forward,” said Krebsbach: Marvin and Helen Schumacher and Bill and Pat Buss.
Among the other individual donors are past board members Carter Stevens and Dave Larson. Denver Savings Bank has been a corporate donor, whose contributions include the scoreboards in the gym.
But the district is still looking for more donations. Opportunities are available for all kinds of sponsorships, including paying for seating in the gym and auditorium.
“We still have $170,000 left to fundraise,” said Laures, who noted they are “still getting donations here and there. We really want to make sure we hit that goal.”