At their monthly workshop meeting Monday, the Huntingdon Area School board discussed the status of the new scoreboard at War Vets Field.
At the April meeting, district athletic director Dean Grenfell requested a new scoreboard from the school board, saying the one is failing and needs replaced. He presented multiple options to the board for scoreboards, pushing for one that would allow more advertising opportunities and flexibility to better feature sports on the field, such as featuring soccer games played on this field.
“I met with the scoreboard committee two or three times, and they are trying to secure sponsorships,” Huntingdon Area superintendent Fred Foster said.
Last month, the board approved a preliminary plan to purchase a scoreboard. The cost would be split between the district and the scoreboard committee, and it would cost around $40,000 each.
However, approval of the plan depended on the ability of the scoreboard committee to supply its half of the cost.
Foster explained the district had spoken with the scoreboard committee and would need to have the money by June 30 in order to have enough time to install the scoreboard before fall sports start.
“June 20 is our deadline for update,” Foster said, adding, “at this time, I’d be surprised if they have everything they need by (June) 20. I anticipate the scoreboard (to be purchased and installed) the following year if we are looking for the partnership.”
Board member Cindy Dell asked how this related to information she had been told before.
“I was under the impression the money would not be a problem and soccer would be played on our field (if we got the scoreboard),” Dell said.
She explained that she had asked Grenfell specifically about playing soccer on the War Vets Field.
“He said he had no problem playing as many sports on the field (as possible),” Dell said. She explained she wanted to bring soccer back to the district’s field because she felt the current deal with Huntingdon Community Center to play at Detweiler Memorial Field to be unfair.
“I think we pay too much to use Detweiler Field,” she said.
At the April board meeting, Grenfell stated his interest to bring sports back onto the district’s field, but in subsequent meetings the board heard concerns about playing multiple sports on the field.
Director of buildings and grounds Andy Socie restated some of the concerns if more sports are played on the field.
“We wouldn’t have any grass left,” he said.
“I think Dean (Grenfell) would like to turf that field,” said board president Danyle Shea. “I think that would absolutely have to happen before playing all those games (on the field).”
Socie had explained at the May work session that turfing the field would have an initial cost of around $1 million plus around $400,000 every 10 years for repairs.
“All those games kill the life expectancy of an artificial field,” he reiterated at the June meeting.
Socie explained another problem would be the track around the field.
“Minimum width for play for legitimate soccer … is usually 195 feet wide up to 230 feet wide,” he said. “We’d have the sidelines along the track. We’d have to (consider some sort of) covering over the track.”
“Those are things we’d have to consider (before bringing soccer to our field),” said board member Dr. Ronald Long.
Board member Susan Grainey explained this issue could affect sponsorships.
“If people want to sponsor kids playing soccer, the kids don’t even play at that field,” she said.
Shea also said the decision to bring soccer back impacted her reasoning behind purchasing the new scoreboard.
“I’d like to see all (the sports) down there (on our field),” she said. “Putting money into a scoreboard that (will only feature) football and track… it doesn’t make sense to me.”
Foster acknowledged the board members’ interest in bringing soccer home but said further conversations would have to be had before making any weighted decisions.
“The last couple updates I’ve been trying to emphasize (the current plan) calls for one home soccer game for senior night, and possibly field hockey, though I’m not sure if they could (with the grass length),” Foster said. He said before making decisions about bringing soccer to War Vets Field, “We would have to have a discussion about the impact of the field and analyze it more deeply.”
He added, “If you are choosing the scoreboard in anticipation of soccer being played here, don’t vote on that (reason). We need to have a much deeper conversation.”
The board members agreed.
“It may not be feasible, but we do need to look at it,” Dell said.
Board member Ian Thompson agreed.
“Detweiler Memorial Field is great and they are good people,” he said. “But (the district) should always be able to take care of ourselves … It’s better to be independent.”
The school board meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 17, in the high school library.
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