It was a memorable evening as donors, coaches and invited supporters gathered together to view the unveiling of the new Shulthis Stadium.

Built on the site of the original Shulthis Stadium that opened in 1918, the structure was constructed at a cost of approximately $1.65 million. 

The funding came from the USD 446 school district with the backing of major sponsors: Textron, Ray Woods, Mark and Kathy Woods family, Independence Ready Mix, Westar Energy, Community National Bank, FORPAZ, Commercial Bank, Hugo's Industrial Supply, Equity Bank, O'Malley Equipment, Montgomery County 4-H Association, the Independence Daily Reporter, the Independence Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Board, and the City of Independence. 

Marty Reichenberger, president of the USD 446 school board, greeted all of those in attendance to the completed stadium. 

"This is what happens when a town gets behind a project. There have been a lot of man hours and donations that helped this project come together. Independence and all of you that are here are proud to have been a part of this project, that is why you are here tonight," Reichenberger said.

Superintendent of Schools Rusty Arnold then came forward to thank all of the donors that contributed their time and resources to produce the new stadium. 

"Without all of you here tonight, none of this would have been possible. We had some great foresight with our board of education. This has been a process that has taken place over the past four to five years," said Arnold. 

He went on to name many of those that worked diligently to deliver the support to move this project to completion. He specifically gave credit to Crossland Construction,  lead by superintendent Randy Munson. 

"In the beginning, I was a little apprehensive of the company. I soon found out that under the direction of Randy, Crossland Construction has done a phenomenal job for us. He did what he called the 'Crossland way.' When Randy would say to fix something, it was fixed and there were no disputes," said Arnold.

Arnold took a moment to pay tribute to Deb Fox, director of business operations management for the board. 

"She has worked very hard to bring back the historical information to place in the plaza, and bring back of the baseball that was once played here," Arnold said. 

He also thanked the committee and the many individuals that worked on the plans to bring this structure to completion, and the finance committee that spent long hours to ensure the project became a reality.

He noted that Independence has produced 45 individuals that went to play in the professional baseball.

"We are going to try to honor each one of those with a plaque as well as plans to honor those that have done great things in track, and someday soccer," Arnold stated.

Some of the names and teams that played on the field were like the legendary Walter "Kayo" Emmot football teams of the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Glenn Wright, Independence Producers, Chester "Chick" Brandom, Independence Coyotes of the Kansas State league, Bill Virdon, Independence Yankees, Ralph Terry, Independence Indians, Cy Blanton, Independence Producers, Jim Finigan, Independence Yankees and Micky Mantle, Independence Yankees.

The new Shulthis stadium stands as a proud memory of the city's rich history in sports, Arnold added.

"As one walks through to hallowed hall towards the field of play there is a sense of the many famous players and teams that made their way on to do battle with their opponent," he added. 

A new season of fall sports begins in the shadow of the mighty Shulthis Stadium on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. with the Independence High School football canopener scrimmage on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. The first game for the IHS football team will be on Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. as they host Fort Scott.  IHS soccer will open their first home match on Sept. 12 beginning at 4:30 p.m.