Even as life in much of the area has become fairly stagnant, a major construction project in Rhinelander is full of activity.
Ground started moving this week on the construction of a multi-million-dollar athletic dome on school property adjacent to Mike Webster Stadium.
The permanent, inflatable dome will be able to fit a full-size football field or soccer field, two softball fields, and four basketball, tennis, or pickleball courts, depending on its setup.
Construction started a week late because of snow cover and should take about five months.
“It’s going to be exciting to watch the changes weekly, because the goal is to have it done in September, by the end of September,” said School District of Rhinelander Superintendent Kelli Jacobi.
Millions of dollars of privately-pledged money and even more school district money are going into the project.
But the giving can be traced to a Rhinelander physician, who floated the idea and a $500,000 donation in 2018.
“We really have to thank Dr. Lee Swank, because he really got this whole thing started,” Jacobi said. “I don’t know that it was his intention at the time or that he could even foresee the snowball effect of his huge donation.”
Jacobi said the grade beam, to which the inflatable dome attaches, should be installed in June or July.
Once open, the dome will be open to Hodag athletes and the public.
“It’s really an exciting time for Rhinelander. It’s not just a school district project. It’s going to be big for our whole community,” Jacobi said.