Hummer Sports Park History: The dream is now the reality.
The land Hummer Sports Park sits on became available after the State of Kansas closed the Topeka State Hospital. “If ever there was an opportunity to build a facility, this was it," says USD 501 School Board past-President Tim Clothier. He began to dream of a multipurpose facility and even began making sketches and drawings at home, thinking about how to use the space.
Before the construction of Hummer Sports Park, all sports were played at the facilities of other schools or at Washburn University. The district was unable to host a track meet, because it didn’t have a track, and had to rent space from other area schools. Only one football field was available (at Highland Park), but there was still the problem of scheduling three schools on one field for Friday night games.
Games had to be scheduled on Thursdays or Saturdays or pay to use Washburn’s Moore Bowl. This presented a major field maintenance problem for the University, especially if they had a Saturday game after a muddy high school event the night before.
The only swimming facility was the antiquated pool at Topeka High School. Baseball teams played at McDonald field or at Billard Field in Oakland, neither of which was close to any of the competing schools. Soccer teams at Highland Park and Topeka West played at school sites, and Topeka High played at the Burnett Center. Now, all sporting events have found a home at Hummer Sports Park and it’s 56-acre complex.
Topeka School District taxpayers embraced the idea of the Sports Park by passing a bond issue in April 2001 that provided $17.5 million for the facility, and another $6 million to add 41 classrooms. Work began in February, 2002, and the first athletic events were held in the fall of 2003.
The Natatorium is the finest in Kansas, and is on par with any found in the Midwest. Besides competitive swimming, the facility offers public lap swim times, as well as Aqua Exercise classes, and swim lessons during the summer months.
What does Hummer Sports Park mean to the overall education offered by Topeka Public Schools? The construction of Hummer Sports Park says that not only is a strong educational curriculum important, but that extra-curricular activity is its equal. By enhancing that piece of the educational puzzle, the academic side will be complemented to its fullest.