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The home of the Hamline football and track and field teams is the Robert and Alexandra Klas Center, which was completed in August 2004.
The $7.1 million Klas Center is a four-level multi-use facility. It replaces Norton Stadium, which was built in 1922. The center provides an improved athletic stadium, as well as learning, gathering and meeting spaces. Construction of the stadium began in September 2003 and was completed in August 2004 with the first game played on Sept. 11, 2004.
The 27,000 square-foot Klas Center has a glass facade that faces Old Main and features a large gathering area on the main floor of the building. University memorabilia is on display along with a café offering coffee, soups, and sandwiches.
The second floor offers flexible classroom and meeting space and the stadium’s press box. The third floor features a large banquet and events hall, which can accommodate 500 people (300 for dinner). The banquet hall has full view of both the Old Main mall and the football field.
Locker rooms are in the lower level of the Klas Center, giving Hamline athletes additional locker room space. Stadium bleachers were built into the north side of the building, facing the football field and track. The seating capacity of the stadium is estimated at 2,000 people.
The Klas Center is named for chief donors Robert and Alexandra Klas. The Klas’ donated $7 million to Hamline University, $6 million of which was used to fund the new Klas Center. It was the largest single donation in Hamline’s 150-year history. The final $1.1 million was raised from other donors.
Robert, a 1952 graduate of Hamline with an economics degree, is the Chairman and CEO of Tapemark Company, a pressure sensitive label and medical products company based in West St. Paul. He is also the founder of the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am, a nationally recognized annual golf tournament that raises money for children with special needs.
Sandy is a Twin Cities artist and long-time advocate for persons with special developmental needs. She has been a board member for many nonprofit agencies for the disabled, and is a former president of Learning Disabilities of Minnesota.
Sandy was elected to the Hamline University Board of Trustees in 1994 and was named a Life Trustee in 2002 along with her husband. She and her husband are also the Minnesota co-chairs of Hamline’s current $150 million New American University Campaign.
Before the Klas’, the largest single donation in Hamline’s history was a $5 million contribution in 1996 by Hamline University Trustee and 1951 alumnus Gordon Walker. His gift helped lead to the construction of the $8.5 million Lloyd W.D. Walker Fieldhouse, which opened in 1998 and is named in honor of Gordon’s father who graduated from Hamline in 1929.
Hamline installed Prestige synthetic playing surface and Mondo track in the summer of 2005. Prestige, combines the player comfort and traction of grass and the all-weather capability, low maintenance and increased usability of synthetic.
Prestige is used as the game surface for Baylor University as well as used for practice facilities at the University of Notre Dame, University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Colorado and University of Tennessee.
The new nine-lane, 400-meter track will be surfaced with Mondo, the most widely acclaimed track surface available. Mondo was the official provider of track surfaces to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The $2.1 million project also included the addition of a new scoreboard and lights.
Before that, the field was renovated and rededicated in October 1986 at the cost of $1.4 million. A new all-weather outdoor track and field complex was named after Mike Gruenberg ‘80 and the renovated football field was named after Avold Kaplan ‘23. Together they donated $1 million for the renovation.
By Aaron Swanum