COLUMBIA CITY — If you drive on State Road 9 south of Columbia City, you have seen the massive construction of the new Columbia City High School underway.

Much has been written about the academic advantages the new school will add to students, staff and the entire community. But a new school also means new athletic facilities. With new athletic facilities on the campus comes new opportunities for almost all of the sports teams at CCHS.

The new football field at CCHS will be the most visible change outside at the campus. The football field will be covered with artificial field turf. The freshman, junior varsity and varsity football teams will all play on the field as well as the boys and girls soccer teams — the same as the current set-up at the high school, which has a grass field.

Typically, with so many teams playing on one field, by the end of the season, a grass field can start to show signs of wear and tear especially if the weather is bad in the fall. That won’t be the case with field turf.

“When you have a synthetic turf you don’t have to worry about any of that,” said Columbia City High School Athletic Director Khelli Leitch.

Circling the football and soccer field will be a new eight-lane track. Leitch said it hasn’t been determined yet what the service of the track will be, but the new track will come with a timing system.

Separate practice fields for the football and soccer teams are also being built. Indian Springs athletes will still maintain their current football field and track. New tennis courts also will be built at the new school. Right now, both boys’ and girls’ tennis teams play at DeVol Field.

New baseball and softball fields will adorn the new campus. Leitch said both fields will have lights. The new lighting and the ability to sell tickets to games would put Columbia City in line to host baseball and softball sectionals. Currently, the CCHS baseball field has no lights and it is difficult to charge admission at softball games as the team plays at Morshces Park, a hub for youth baseball and softball games all spring and summer.

Indian Springs has had one of the more elaborate and challenging middle school cross country courses for years. The plan now is to also have a high school course somewhere on the campus.

“We will design it once everything is constructed,” said Leitch.

Inside the school will be a new gym to go along with an auxiliary gym. This will give the school the ability to start freshman and junior varsity basketball games at the same time. The main gym will have roughly the same seating capacity as the current gym at the high school, but without the balcony area.

“Having one level area, there isn’t going to be a bad seat in the house,” said Leitch of the new design of the gym.

A new wrestling room also is being constructed at the school. That gives the CCHS wrestling team it’s own practice facility on campus. It will also allow the grapplers to hold all of their matches in the gym at the high school.

The ability to host sectionals or other large tournaments at the new campus is a financial plus for the businesses of Columbia City as well. Sectionals have eight teams that would play games at the school over the course of the week. And some cross country tournaments feature 20 or 30 schools which participate in meets.

While the new school is still two years away from opening, the prospect of new athletic facilities is already exciting. Columbia City teams will now have opportunities that not only benefit the school and the local athletes, but the entire community. The state-of-the-art fields, track and gyms also present CCHS fans with a new viewing experience, while giving the players the best arena to show their talents.