Burke Stadium renovations are closer to reality with a grant from the Omaha Public Schools Foundation, which announced Wednesday that the field will be named in honor of longtime football coach Larry Jacobsen.

Toba Cohen-Dunning, the foundation’s executive director, said the $500,000 grant pushes the project past the three-quarters mark for the estimated $2 million cost. Among the upgrades will be new restrooms, concessions areas and press box, and field-level team accommodations.

Almost all of the renovations to Burke Stadium since its opening in 1967 have been to the field and track. Money from an OPS bond issue was used to pay for paving of the stadium’s west parking lot, which opened last week.

Burke has hosted state track meets since 1972.

“We really believe in this project,” Cohen-Dunning said. “OPS having the state track meet is amazing. The revenue to the city from that is important. The $500,000 is a pretty fair sum, but we have to get it renovated. Other schools are renovating stadiums and champing at the bit to get the state meet.

“We look forward to Burke’s renovation and keeping the state track meet.”

Jacobsen Field will honor Burke’s winningest football coach. Jacobsen came to the school in 1968 and was named football coach the next year. In 26 seasons at Burke, his teams were a combined 167-83-2 and won a Metro championship, had two undefeated regular seasons and played in two state finals.

Jacobsen, who received the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award in 1991, is in poor health.

Former Husker running back Tim Wurth, who was an all-stater at Burke, told Jacobsen and wife Judy of the honor Wednesday and said they got emotional. Some Burke alums have sought the field naming for several years.

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Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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