Construction of a multipurpose facility at Concordia Lutheran church and elementary school was 20 years in the making.
The new $2 million, 18,150-square-foot arena at 4245 Lake Ave. has come at a time when enrollment has grown along with church activities, said Michael Rosin, the school’s principal.
“We have an existing gym that’s a little bit small,” Rosin said. “It’s difficult to accommodate all of the sports teams we have.” As a result, some of those practices for students in grades 5 through 8 have ended at 8 p.m. or later.
The new building will provide two additional gyms, one full-sized high school gym and another gym that can be divided into two middle school practice gyms. Play rehearsals may take place in the existing gym, Rosin said, but performances and other events such as outside speakers could see a crowd of up to 1,000 using a combination of bleachers and chairs.
The new stage is 40 feet across, whereas the existing one is 23 feet.
The space will also be used for contemporary worship services. The congregation is 2,000 strong.
“It’s great for the school and great for our future outreach for our community,” said Brian Schlegel, who has three boys in the second, fifth and seventh grades at the school. Schlegel is a basketball coach there, and two years ago there were so many basketball teams “that we had to rent space at Speice Fieldhouse.”
The enrollment for K-8 grades has jumped from 320 to 368, much of that attributed to the state’s voucher system, Rosin said. About 180 students receive vouchers, half of which are church members, he said. Tuition of $4,600 a year is paid from 50 percent to 90 percent. The K-8 school could accommodate 450 students, up to 25 a class in kindergarten through eighth grades.
There are currently 415 enrolled at the school, including preschool children.
Church officials expect construction to be completed in May. They broke ground this month on the arena.
“I think it’s great we’re going to have a high school-sized gym and two smaller ones and two new locker rooms,” said Allison Anzini, whose son Patrick is in the third grade.
Strebig Construction of Fort Wayne will oversee construction. The firm has already renovated classrooms and corridors in the school.