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School District of Rhinelander Opens Hodag Dome to the Public

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The large white bubble that is the Hodag Dome is almost blinding in the February sun. Its soft-looking exterior stands out in stark contrast to the brick, rectangular buildings around it.

Inside, a group of about 50 people spread out on the turf field.

“This is just a very exciting day for School District but also our community,” said School District of Rhinelander Superintendent Eric Burke.

The Hodag Dome is now open to the public.

At about 128,000 square feet it is the largest air-supported high school dome in the nation. That’s large enough for a football and soccer field, softball and baseball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts, and a slew of other activities, though not all at once.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
The Hodag Dome can accommodate a football and soccer field, multiple tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts, along with a walking a track and a variety of other activities. 

The set up right now was a large open turf field when you first walk in, a walking track off to the left side, in the very back gymnastics equipment, two tennis courts, and a basketball court.  All of which are already being put to use.

“Our community needs things to do for their own mental health, their physical health. We want to be part of the community. The School District wants to be part of the community,” said Burke.

More than $8.5 million was invested into the Hodag Dome Complex which was kick started by a $500,000 donation from Dr. Lee Swank who was there to cut the ribbon the on opening day.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
Dr. Lee Swank cuts the ribbon officially opening the Hodag Dome to the public.

The dome has been in use by students for about a month, now it’s open to the public.

Burke hopes the community will take advantage of the space.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing this to where we can use it to its capacity. Once past COVID, we want to be able to fill this every single day, especially in the winter months to be able to have kids, to have community be able to use this, have tournaments, just a busy, busy place that will be a great resource,” said Burke.

The Hodag Dome has certain hours it’s open to the public, with some courts requiring reservations.

There is also a fee to use the facilities.

You can find all that information on the School District of Rhinelander website.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
The exterior of the Hodag Dome. It cost more than $8.5 million to complete the complex.

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