With $17 million from a local charity, and with unanimous approval from the Bradenton City Council on Wednesday morning, Bradenton Christian School will overhaul its sports complex over the next two years.
Among other improvements, the private school will build a new gymnasium with up to 60,000 square feet of space, along with new fields for soccer, football, volleyball and baseball. Much of the sports complex will convert to artificial turf on the school’s campus, 3304 43rd St. W., Bradenton.
Construction is expected to cost approximately $19 million, and Bradenton Christian plans to break ground this year, according to Melanie Rosen, a spokeswoman for the school. She declined to comment further, citing an upcoming news release.
The project is largely covered by a donation from the Pentecost Foundation, a family-run charity that evolved from the success of It Works!, a Palmetto-based marketer of health and beauty products.
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Mark Pentecost worked as a teacher and varsity basketball coach for more than 15 years in Michigan, where he grew the company with his wife, Cindy. Their grandchildren — ages 13, 11 and 9 — enrolled at Bradenton Christian this year.
“It’s always been a great education and now, for the student-athlete, they’ll be able to compete at any level,” Pentecost said. “We really believe in what they’re doing to create leaders in the community.”
Students compete for space and sometimes practice early in the morning or late at night. Along with the chance to hone their athletic skills, the expansion could allow more time for homework, dinner and leisure when practice times are normalized, Pentecost said.
“Their mission is preparing the hearts and minds of students, and it’s a Christian school, so I think it’s just a real foundation for the community and future leadership of the community,” he said.
The expansion also includes new grandstands and dugouts, along with a slightly larger parking lot behind the elementary school.
A focal point of Wednesday’s city council meeting was the addition of new stadium lights, each between 70 to 90 feet tall. According to ZNS Engineering, the equipment will utilize an adjustable shield to contain the LED lights, which produce less glare than stadium lights of the past.
Bradenton Christian also plans to install dense landscaping between the sports fields and surrounding homes, adding to the school’s existing buffer zone.
Netting or backstops will shield portions of the baseball field, and games will end by 10 p.m., aside from scheduled football games, which stop by 11 p.m.