HODAG DOME COMPLEX FACT SHEET OVERVIEW
Overview of Hodag Dome:
Rhinelander High School was built in 1958 and at the time, was one of the better schools for
facilities and academics in the state. However, over decades – did not add to facility space and
as community and number of activities grew, the facilities deteriorated and very few
improvements were made, with the exception of the 2010 referenda which main focus was on
lighting, roofing, asbestos. Private money helped improvements in gymnasium, pool,
auditorium, fitness center; however, no additional space was created.
Most School Districts and communities have more dedicated indoor facility space in the form of
a field house, gymnasiums, and activity space. Rhinelander does not have these spaces and has
a much more difficult climate than many of the schools in the state. Even schools around
Rhinelander with similar climates, such as Eagle River and Ashland, made major additions and
improvements for their facility space in the last few decades.
Rhinelander has the best of all four seasons: summer, spring, fall, and winter. Yet the
spring/winter has become very difficult to utilize outdoor space from October through May.
Minnesota has 36 Domes versus 3 in Wisconsin – none in northern Wisconsin. Many of the
Domes in Minnesota are in the Minneapolis area, which has a similar climate to Rhinelander. In
combination, most domes are seasonal domes which means they are put up and taken down
around the winter months, as land use can be limited. The Hodag Dome will be a permanent
dome and the land configuration is an incredible asset for how it complements the schools and
The Hodag Dome will provide community space for students, the community, and senior citizens
in our area. Exercise and engagement of students shows a direct link between academic success
and better cognitive skills, and improved mental health.
The Hodag Dome is estimated to be similar to what happened in 1958 when the High School was
built, which helped Rhinelander emerge as a destination school in the state.
Previously, students had to practice until 10:00 p.m. at night or travel to other communities to
practice. The Hodag Dome will help reduce the challenges of year round practice and
competition, which in turn provides more family time and opportunities for activity success.
The Hodag Dome will provide facility space for community events for trade shows, community
gatherings, public events, and so many more benefits utilizing this space.
The Hodag Dome will provide many cost benefits that are substantially less than a seasonal
dome or a metal building. In addition, the Hodag Dome provides the ability to be divided into
smaller areas, so several groups can utilize it simultaneously.
The Hodag Dome complex will be the largest high school Dome in the country with 128,000+
square feet. In addition, the Hodag Dome will be one of the largest air supported domes in all of
North America, and in the top 10% of the entire world to include turf for soccer, football, track,
pole vaulting, baseball, softball, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, basketball and seasonal
The Hodag Dome will be the largest permanent dome in multiple states – and one of the few
that can host softball or soccer tournaments inside in the winter months, while also hosting
tennis meets and other community events.
The Hodag Dome will have four permanent tennis courts, which will be lined for pickle ball,
which is a growing activity for all ages. Further – the courts will have interchangeable sport
court surfaces to allow for basketball and volleyball to take place within an hour to add on the
court surfaces or remove. This will help all of these sports and help host tournaments. The
Hodag Dome will truly be unique as Rhinelander may be able to host a soccer tournament and a
regional tennis tournament at the same time.
The Hodag Dome will have 168 LED lights and natural light, which will provide a bright and
accessible facility. With winter and dark/cold days – being able to see light, green grass, and
use a facility helps in mental health and helps senior citizens being able to walk and exercise
away the cold.
The Hodag Dome will have a high-level air exchange system always pumping in air to keep the
air clean. The Hodag Dome will have 6,678,000 volume of cubic feet for ventilation thus the
building will have vents open providing approximately 1 air exchange every 4 ½ hours and the
fresh air rate is 24 hours a day. Thus, when the Dome is unoccupied, the entire volume of the
Dome will be more and more filled with fresh air effectively multiplying the ventilation rate.
Additionally, the Air Rotation Technology in the design of air movement will have an effective
method of ventilating all of the air in the dome without ductwork. Normally up to 70% of air in
an occupied building is stagnant and not replaced with the fresh air. The Hodag Dome Air
Rotation System mixes virtually 100% of the air in the dome to get air changes. With the current
and health issues in mind, clean air with the exchange system, and filtration along with a
spacious facility to provide social distancing are all helpful.
Further, the Hodag Dome has a combination of snow, wind, and pressure sensors to
automatically increase the pressure and warm up the membrane when the weather turns cold
or icy to be able to melt off the snow/ice from the Dome to control and reduce the weight on
The Hodag Dome will have Wi-Fi to be able to have participant access to use phones / video /
and for tournaments.
The Hodag Dome is estimated to bring in substantial economic benefits to the Rhinelander
community via tournaments, which will help restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. Further, the
Hodag Dome will be a major attraction and retention for families and businesses in our area. As
an example, the WIAA has already made inquiries about the potential to host State
Tournaments if regular venues are unavailable.
The Hodag Dome will have key features for the community. Two indoor softball fields can be
utilized back to back at the same time for leagues. In addition to the year-round tennis and
pickle ball usage, two golf simulators along with practice area for golf can be used for
community members, as well as the track for walking and exercise.
The Hodag Dome will help bring open enrollment back to Rhinelander, which in turn, will help
provide more income back to the District to reinvest in teacher salaries, facilities, and marketing
of the school. With the Covid issues and economic hardships, everyone needs positive news and
the timing of these improvements will provide Rhinelander a great benefit. In addition, the
potential improved enrollment trends can bring in more state aid to our District. The Hodag
Dome will also help attract and retain teachers – as Rhinelander improves enrollment,
additional state aid can help in teacher pay versus our peers. Rhinelander has already seen
interest from teachers outside the area, which complements the goal of always attracting and
retaining the best teachers to help our students and community.
The economic, social and health challenges are driving people across the country to ask
themselves where they want to live, move, or stay; the Hodag Dome will be a great asset for
people to consider Rhinelander as their destination for learning, activity and community in the
future. It will be amazing and truly differentiate and help Rhinelander.
Overview of Hodag Dome Outside:
The Hodag Dome Complex offers many improvements outside with softball fields, a baseball
field, and practice fields for soccer, football, and community use. In the past, the land behind
the high school had water drainage issues and was not used year round. Now the considerable
land the Rhinelander School District has will be efficiently utilized for the outdoor space.
Rhinelander has much more land per capita than many other schools. Where many schools
utilize a seasonal dome or metal building for facility needs, a Dome is more cost effective versus
metal buildings by 1/3 rd to 1/4 of the cost, and metal buildings need to be configured by joining
the current school, which would add costs and impact the busing loop and create
location/pavement costs and issues. However, for a permanent Dome, a school needs the
proper land configuration with enough land to utilize, which Rhinelander has in comparison to
The land where the Hodag Dome complex and softball fields are located was land that was
rarely used because of drainage issues. Through the school planning and Parks Force Task plan
by the City, the land was identified to relocate the softball fields. Almost 2,800 loads of fill were
brought in from Musson Brothers to provide enough dirt and landscaping to build a base under
the Dome and help fill the land for softball and activity use.
The concession stand that was just opened in 2019 provides a nice backbone to the Dome with
new bathrooms and a kitchen area to serve concessions and food/drink.
A new building constructed in front of the concession building will be welcoming visitors to the
Hodag Dome and will have a special Donor Wall in Dr. Lee Swank’s name honoring all donors
who contributed to the Dome complex. The building will also provide a gathering area and an
office for the Dome manager.
New lighting and security will complement the outside area with 35 light poles lights added in
for proper lighting for students and the community in addition to security cameras for safety.
Parking was added with 70 stalls in the east lot and 110 stalls in the west lot for a total of 180
stalls, including 6 handicapped stalls. Previously there was little to any parking around the
stadium and the stadium was not lighted behind the football stadium. Now, the outdoor
improvements will provide visibility and accessibility.
The addition of two softball fields at the high school will allow Pioneer Park to remove softball,
which can help open up this park space to allow a better park environment for Rhinelander, as it
currently is crowded.
The Mike Webster stadium pavers put in by the Hodag Facilities (Schools) Foundation in 2004
were preserved and now provide a new walkway with the Mike Webster arches. In 2019,
artificial turf was added as previously, there were improvements to the track and field with
private money however, due to the climate, this field was torn up and was not efficient. Now,
community events such as graduation, games, and other practices can be held at the Stadium.
Several old buildings were removed to add in parking and space.
Landscaping and concrete was carefully planned and laid out to provide a walking trail usable by
the students and community for a pleasant tour all around the Hodag Sports Complex. These
features seamlessly connect the High School and Middle School campuses.