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Ashley donates field, shelter (09/25/2013)
By Chris Rogers

Photo by Chris Rogers
     Arcadia Soccer League teams warm up before a match at Ashley Field. In the background, revelers celebrate the dedication of Joyce A. Wanek Pavilion.
There may not be many places to order nachos from a stonework and timber frame stand, but Arcadia, Wis., is now on the list. Hundreds play soccer each week at Ashley Furniture Field in Arcadia's Schank Park, and last Saturday the company dedicated the Joyce A. Wanek Pavilion, part of an over $1.6 million investment in the park, for use by spectators and players.

Uniformed athletes and small children alike practiced their footwork on the lush field while Ashley Furniture Chairman Ron Wanek prepared to dedicate the building to his wife, Joyce, and donate it to the city of Arcadia and the Arcadia Soccer League. Since Arcadia's Hispanic population has risen in recent years, largely due to employment at Ashley Furniture, the demand for soccer facilities has exploded. "The men's league is pretty serious," one spectator explained, nodding to teams practicing drills before a match.

"They needed a pavilion," explained Ashley Furniture spokesman Jason Lockington. The field is always busy with games and crowds, he pointed out. Until now, they had nowhere to gather, get food, or escape the rain. Concessions will provide a valuable way to raise funds for the Arcadia Soccer League, and lights and additional bleachers will soon be added to the field, as well.

Soccer league organizer Luiz Cruz embraced the Waneks after the dedication and thanked them for their support of the soccer program. During the ceremony he spoke in Spanish to a mixed-language crowd while his sister translated for Anglophones.

"When I came here years ago there weren't a lot of people who spoke Spanish, and now it's growing," Cruz said. Look at what the Hispanic community is doing for Arcadia, residents told him. "I told them, 'It's not us. We're all doing this together,'" he continued. "We are all Arcadia."

"Other communities worry about diversity," commented attorney Bill Koslo. "In Arcadia, we don't talk about diversity. We talk about friends and neighbors."

Eleven years ago there were no soccer fields in Arcadia, Ron Wanek said. Now, the soccer program is flourishing, and "these guys are going to be good," he added, grinning.

"Pavilion" may seem too graceful a word for the average park shelter, but the Joyce A. Wanek Pavilion is far from average. Built in the style of a Spanish mission, arching timbers and imposing beams support a red-tile roof while delicately laid ledge stone walls encase a commercial kitchen, concession stand, and bathrooms. The impressive feel of the structure is no mistake; designer Ben Golden looked to Arcadia's St. Stanislaus church as a model for his work.

The Waneks praised City Council Member Gerald Myers and former mayors Eugene Killian and Gary Bautch for their vision and decades of work to transform the site into a park.

"I hope everyone enjoys this new building," Joyce Wanek said. "It is an honor to have my name on it." 


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