Northfield sports facility undergoes renovations

Project includes expanded bleachers, McNamara building, and tennis courts



Jane McNamara and staff pose in front of the new building next to Robert Naughton Field

Over the summer, New Trier’s Freshman campus underwent a series of remodels and renovations to its athletic facilities to better accommodate Trevian athletes and fans alike.

The construction included remaking the tennis courts and the West parking lot, expanding the bleachers in the student section, and constructing an entirely new building dedicated to Jane McNamara, complete with a restroom, concession stand, and training facility.

“We started with some renovations and we just needed to continue so that we could enhance some of the areas at Northfield,” said Athletic Director Augie Fontanetta, who helped lead the process while students were on vacation.

“I helped design some of the athletic improvements along with the athletic staff,” said Fontanetta.

Fontanetta pointed out that a remodeling of the athletic facilities at Northfield was urgent. The tennis courts, for example, had cracked surfaces and there weren’t enough of them to be used for major events. The new building serves as an easier point of access for a fan looking to grab a bite to eat or a player who has to be helped off the field due to an in-game injury.

“I wouldn’t single out one particular renovation,” said Fontanetta, implying that all were significant and all improved the quality of New Trier’s athletic program.
Dave Conway, director of Physical Plant Services (PPS) at the Northfield campus who served as the project manager, agreed.

“Each portion of the project solved a glaring facilities need. Athletic upgrades at the Northfield Campus or replacement of the failing parking lot were needed to continue to provide the students and staff with up to date facilities,” Conway said.

Statistically, the most dire need was the stadium bleachers. According to the Winnetka Patch, New Trier came in dead last in home seating capacity among schools in the area despite having the second largest student body.

With the 500-seat expansion, the percentage of the student body that the stadium fits increased from 38% to over 50%. This is still the lowest percentage out of local high schools, but puts New Trier on a more level playing field.

To launch the project, the athletic department had to secure a vote from the school board. The seven council members were nearly in unanimous agreement with the only dissenting voice being that of Vice President Cathy Albrecht. She disapproved of the bleacher expansion because she “wanted to make sure the board knew the full cost of the priority items before approving spending on something that was discretionary,” according to Board of Education President, Greg Robitaille.

Albrecht did support the majority of the projects, with the aforementioned exception.

Robitaille showed no regrets in the board’s decision to approve the renovations.

“The quality and professionalism of our staff in executing the projects were all reasons to be proud of our community’s continual commitment to excellence and investment in our high school,” he said.

Administrators said that they have no qualms about the cost of the renovations, including the $1,907,323 McNamara building. The changes to the parking lot and the tennis courts were the other two that cost upwards of one million dollars.

As for where the money came from, Fontanetta said that the district primarily funded the projects, with a large donation to include the extra tennis courts, and some added help from New Trier’s booster club, who was responsible for adding signage depicting silhouettes of Illinois state championships lists, and action shots of New Trier athletes.

The new facilities, which have affected student life and other aspects of the Northfield campus, were evident during the Loyola vs. New Trier game. Tickets sold out by Wednesday morning of that week and the stadium was packed with ecstatic fans by kickoff.

“I’m very proud of the way everything looks, for the athletic department and for the school,” said Fontanetta. “I think it’s a great representation of the New Trier community.”