WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — From the diamond to the gridiron. Wichita’s Riverfront Stadium transformed from a baseball stadium to a football stadium, and for the first time, it successfully hosted high school football games earlier this month.

When Riverfront Stadium opened in the spring of 2021, its primary tenant, the Wichita Wind Surge, had big plans to host a variety of events at the new $75 million ballpark.

Last November, Riverfront Stadium hosted its first football game, the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) Championship. This month, the ballpark transformed into a football field again for four high school football games in three consecutive weeks.

Before the high school football state playoffs begin this Friday, KSN looks back at those showcase football games at Riverfront Stadium.

When it was announced late in the summer that the home of the Wichita Wind Surge would host four high school football games, the headliner was the annual “Holy War” between Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel. A stadium-record crowd of over 8,000 packed the stands.

“You know, the Bishop Carroll-Kapaun game really had kind of that college-esque atmosphere to it, where you had the video board and the crowd and everything like that,” said Wind Surge General Manager Bob Moullette. “8,066 was the most amount of people in the building since we opened up. You could tell all the seats were filled. People were standing around. Standing room only. So again, it was a great gathering place for people to start their Friday night to root on their team and a tradition that’s been going on forever in the city.”

“It didn’t seem like a high school football game at all. I mean, it was a college football atmosphere. Just with, you know, the 8,000 plus people that were there, the jumbotron, the multiple camera angles, and the replays that they played. The videos throughout,” said Bishop Carroll Athletic Director Tyler Frazier.

The next-best attended matchup was the Oct. 15 “Hatchet Game” between Dodge City and Garden City.

“Riverfront Stadium was really built to be used for more than now, almost double to a point. We wanted it to be Wichita’s front porch to the community,” said Moullette. “This is where you come. This is where you have football. This is where you have baseball. So, you have future sports, concerts, those types of things.”

“I think it was very loud. I think on each sideline. Even though you had the open part (of the stadium), just with the fans there and just the way that the stadium was built is very fan friendly. And it was. Yeah, it was an incredible atmosphere for the players,” added Frazier.

The other two games were city league matchups, and they didn’t come close to drawing the same crowds as the first two games. However, football will be back on the baseball diamond next year.

“Of course, you always have doubts. Like I said, playing a football game on a baseball field. But those should be erased. I mean, they do an incredible job. Their fan experience and Ben and the grounds crew … They did an incredible job turning that field into a football field. I feel like they will have success with it moving forward,” said Frazier.

“We’re already having a conversation for the next season. We’ve had a few schools approach us interested in doing it here at Riverfront Stadium. I think the goal is to get a bigger program next year. Obviously, we have to work within the confines of the minor league baseball schedule, so we really can’t get anything going until the beginning of October. But you know, as we’ve been doing this process, and we’ve told the community we were going to use this for 150 plus events or whatever. It’s really a step-by-step-by-step process. To go from one football game to four leads us to believe that we’re going to be able to do more of those types of events moving forward,” said Moullette

Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel are locked in for next year. The Golden Eagles were the home team in this year’s “Holy War.” Next year when these two meet at Riverfront Stadium, the Crusaders will be the designated home team.