American Foods Group (AFG), the company building a large beef harvesting plant in Warren County, this week pledged $2 million to the Wright City R-II School District to help with construction of a …
American Foods Group (AFG), the company building a large beef harvesting plant in Warren County, this week pledged $2 million to the Wright City R-II School District to help with construction of a football stadium at the district’s new high school.
AFG indicated to the school district the company wanted to make a donation that would reach the biggest number of students, explained Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. He said the football stadium meets this criteria.
“They really had a high level of interest in the stadium because of that reason of all kids, whether you’re in P.E. and you go out to the turf field, whether you’re a football player, whether you’re in the band or whether you’re walking across the stage at graduation, every kid is going to use the stadium,” Berger said.
District officials say the contribution will help construct locker rooms and a concession stand at the football stadium site. When the school district awarded bids for the high school project in November, the locker rooms and concession stand were among additional options that the school board chose not to proceed with during the first phase of construction.
“(AFG) said ‘We’d like to help with that.’ And really, they didn’t put any strings attached to it,” Berger said. “They said if that’s the direction you guys are going, that sounds like something we’d like to help with.”
In exchange for the pledge from AFG, the new stadium will be named America’s Heartland Stadium. AFG’s beef harvesting facility, which is currently under construction east of Wright City, will be named America’s Heartland Packing. Naming rights for the stadium were the only stipulation AFG placed on the donation, Berger noted.
“At American Foods Group, we prioritize our employee family and the community in which we live and work,” American Foods Group President and COO Steve Van Lannen said. “When the opportunity came forward to support the new football facility at Wright City R-II, it was a good fit. We look forward to calling Warren County, Missouri, home and making continued positive impacts within the community.”
Berger noted the contribution of $2 million would not be enough to cover the costs of other additions the district did not proceed with, such as a performance gymnasium and a performing arts facility. The biggest impact the $2 million could have was to finish the amenities at the football stadium, Berger said.
He also stressed the $2 million contribution may help the district complete other projects in the future.
“There’s been conversation about when we can complete the projects,” Berger said. “Now when we go and complete the project, that project will be cheaper because we will not be adding the locker rooms and the concession stand.”
The Wright City R-II School Board in November awarded a base bid and two alternate bids to Wright Construction for the project. The base bid and alternates totaled just over $55 million. Also adding an addition at East Elementary, a second phase of new construction, contingency funds and architect and engineering fees, the total estimated cost for the projects was over $66.4 million. The first phase of construction is scheduled to be completed in October 2024. The district is planning to occupy the new facilities in January 2025.
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