Building a Foundation for the Future at Beatrice High School
By: Ben Stindt
In August, I saw a project completed that was, in many ways, the pinnacle of my career. While most would assume I’m talking about an NFL stadium, as I’ve worked on my fair share of those, this was something a bit smaller, but chalk full of meaning for me and my family. The $1.9 million gem that I’m referring to is the new stadium for the Beatrice High School Orangemen, the football team of my small, rural hometown of Beatrice, Nebraska. The high school football team had been playing in a stadium that was more than 100 years old and was literally falling apart at the seams.
My attachment to Beatrice High School, and particularly their football program, runs deep. Not only are my sisters and I Beatrice High graduates, but my father and grandfather attended the school. My father, Ben Stindt Sr., was an all-state running back who went on to coach the school’s football team, becoming arguably one of the most beloved coaches in the high school’s history. When he passed away in 2008, our small town mourned the loss alongside my family. His legacy and involvement in the program is something I continued to be passionate about, which is why, when I heard in 2010 that the team would be replacing their current football stadium and were looking for an architect to design the stadium, I jumped at the chance to pursue the project.
I happened into sports architecture after graduating with an architecture degree from K-State, working at Populous for the majority of my career designing major stadiums in the NFL, MLB and collegiate markets. As I followed discussions in the media about what would come of the new stadium in my hometown, I knew that I could design something the community would be proud of with the legacy of the stadium, the program and my father in mind.
Two years, a grassroots fundraising effort and countless design decisions later, the stadium opened to a packed house on August 24, 2012. With the last minute addition of a donor wall and a push for donations from alumni across the nation via social media, the community raised an additional $1.3 million. Standing there, in front of a lively crowd of students and community members, many of whom I recognized, I saw something that you don’t always see on the faces of players, coaches and fans on opening day of a project: immense gratitude and pride. The community was swelling with emotion, understanding the significance of the stadium. Many of the individuals from the blue collar town haven’t been in an NFL or even collegiate stadium in their life, and seeing this high-caliber stadium placed in their hometown was incredibly impactful.
The Beatrice High Orangemen went on to go 10-0 for the first time in the history of the school, something of which each and every community member can be proud. The spirit of a community who is committed to providing quality facilities, education and opportunities to their youth is something that can’t be stopped. For decades, Beatrice has provided this to me and countless other graduates, giving us the knowledge base that we needed to be successful in whatever career field or pursuits we chose. This project gave me and other alum the opportunity to contribute to a place we owe a great deal to with the understanding that it would have a lasting and tangible impact on generations to come. Embodying the spirit and culture of Populous, the project was proof that it isn’t the size of the project that matters, it’s the heart behind it.