MAHOMET — The field house at Mahomet-Seymour High School may be closed for renovations this month and going into summer, but there is plenty of activity going on as the sprucing up of the facility is in full swing.

The schedule to get the field house work done is hectic now at the same time that village and area residents continue their own slowdown to curb their schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that when the field house is ready to reopen, social distancing guidelines will be eased and the flow of people into and out of the site will be steady.

“There’s a lot of ground to cover,” said Steve Curtis, Mahomet-Seymour school district director of facilities. “This facility gets a lot of different uses. It’s a big classroom, it’s an extension of the athletic program, and the P.E. program as well, but also the community uses it. It gets used for intramural activities and all that kind of stuff.”

Curtis gave The Citizen an extensive tour of the aging field house late this spring, just before COVID-19 restrictions went into place.

Touring the facility

Curtis said the field house has been well used in its two decades as part of the high school.

“Basically everything’s original from initial construction 20 years ago. But things are wearing,” he told The Citizen earlier this spring.

The biggest part of the job, which will be tackled last, is the floor.

“The flooring surface throughout the field house (will be replaced),” Curtis said. “The track plus all of the court area is going to get redone. It’s served its purpose well … it’s worked pretty good. (But) it’s really getting slick out here. It’s really getting to the point of concern.

“It takes a lot of extra care to ensure it’s adequate for its intended use,” he added. “(So) the flooring is going to get done — that’ll be the last thing that gets done.”

Screening on the inside of the field house track that separates athletes using the track from those on the interior of it will be changed, with the structure that holds it remaining.

“The netting is going to get all replaced,” Curtis said. “We’ve got wear marks … holes, separations where some of the screen door areas are gone. The superstructure is going to stay the same — maybe a few modifications to accommodate a little bit of change in design, but that’ll stay the same.”

The field house will have a complete facelift — yet with sponsor signs, plaques and other signs of recognition preserved, he noted.

“Everything’s going to get repainted, or resurfaced and so forth,” Curtis said. “All the graphics and all that are going to come down. Of course it’ll go back up. But it’ll have a new surface to go on.”

Insulation that had been protruding on walls is going to be contained.

“That’s going to get covered with TECTUM panels, which will have a neat aesthetic look to it but will also add to sound absorption, which will be very important,” Curtis said.

The ventilation system that circulates fresh air in the field house has not been working, so it, too will be replaced. The basic infrastructure will remain the same, but another change is a new control panel for the system that electronically raises and lowers basketball hoops, for example.

“We’re going to change the automation to today’s standards,” Curtis explained. “With the new automation, we’ll be able to have it set so that P.E. class 101 could come in and push a button and everything’s going to re-set on its own. You don’t have to do it all individually.

“It’ll save time, it’ll save hassle, it’ll save challenges for some, and we can program it to whatever their needs are. We’ll have that capability.”

In the locker rooms that are part of the facility, air flow will be improved and other facelift type of work will be done.

“We’re addressing the ventilation issues there. Plus the locker rooms are going to get freshened up,” Curtis noted.

The facilities director said the field house normally — before COVID-19 curbed school use almost completely — is used for so many activities that it may be surprising to some.

“I think a lot of people misunderstand how much use this area gets for P.E., and how much teaching is in here,” Curtis said. “I was in here the other day and it was right after school, but not only did we have kids running the track and all the track and field stuff, but we also had science teachers … doing some sort of parachute type of thing … measuring height … so it gets a lot of different activity.”

Funding in place

The approximately $1 million in improvements to the field house has not just Mahomet-Seymour board of education approval but also this spring got a $400,000 boost from the state of Illinois via the capital budget bill.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, announced the grant in late February, and the idea is to foster cooperation between the Village of Mahomet and the school district to increase public use of the high school’s field house.

The school board agreed to take up $985,000 in debt for work on the field house. The debt certificates issued are on a four-year maturity structure, and the low bid was for 1.9759 percent from Commerce Bank and approved April 20 by the board.

Initial estimated costs for the field house work included:

-- Field house floor — $572,219

-- Field house curtains — $175,135

-- Field house paint — $118,346

-- Field house TECTUM panels — $70,368

-- Field house fresh air intake — $31,900

-- Field house lobby bathrooms — $39,381

-- Field house locker rooms — $82,376

-- Team locker rooms — $53,786

So funding is multiple-fold on the project overall, as Curtis noted.

“We’ve got health/life/safety funds that are addressing the ventilation issues and all that kind of stuff; we’ve got local funds that are going to pay for part of it; we’ve got donations that are coming in to support the backboards and the automation there,” Curtis said. “The community embraces it. That all makes it happen.”