Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Column: Time for BHS sports complex is now

December 15, 2005

After the events that have taken place over the past three months with the fall sports teams and Baker University, it is time for the Baldwin School District to build its own sports complex.

There are many reasons why the time is now for the Board of Education to act quickly and get this done.

The first reason deals with the condition of the football field at Liston Stadium. Every year the field is torn up from many games being played on it, but this year it was in awful condition.

The Baker University football team began practicing on the field this year, because its practice field was swampy in September. This ripped up the game field very quickly, turning grass into an eventual sand pit.

I heard many complaints from BHS and Baker players about tasting sand during games.

Part of the field condition problem is because of the football practice field being smaller after the reconstruction of the baseball and softball fields. Baker is landlocked with the sports complex, which created many problems this year.

Baker should be able to practice on the game field next year, because the synthetic turf will be in place. This brings me to the second point.

The construction at Liston Stadium is much needed, but is creating problems for the track teams this spring. Baker will be adding an eighth lane on the track while resurfacing it.

The track has needed repairs for about six years now. I have seen the problems on the track when I ran for BHS and Baker. I always enjoyed running through puddles on the track, because the drainage was horrible. It was also fun running on a hard track that injured too many runners.

All of that will be fixed for the 2007 season, but the teams must still compete this spring.

If the school district had constructed a track north of BHS by now, this would not be an issue. I remember hearing about a small track that was supposed to be placed where the BHS soccer field is now, several years ago. But the problem is talking about the idea is great, but the lack of action has left the district without a place to practice track.

The school board has once again begun discussing the idea of a track around the soccer field. The problem is the track will now take space from the soccer team, plus it is probably too late to start construction for a track by March or April.

Unless the district creates a cinder track, like schools used to have, the idea of a working track for this spring is very unlikely.

My third reason for a sports complex is simply convenience. Don't get me wrong, I love Liston Stadium and it is very nice to be able to use the Baker facilities. But Baldwin is a Class 4A school and needs to own its own facilities.

Imagine a stadium just north of BHS that houses the BHS football, soccer and track teams. Teams wouldn't have to travel to practice or to play games. It would also give opposing schools and parents a chance to look at our high school.

If the baseball and softball fields are moved near the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center as proposed, the stadium would fit nicely in between BHS and the Baker soccer fields.

It would be inconvenient for the baseball and softball teams to practice at BESIC, but that complex should begin construction soon.

Another problem would be with the physical education classes at BHS and BJHS, who use the baseball and softball fields near BHS.

A possible suggestion would be to leave those fields for practice and P.E. uses and construct a stadium around the soccer field. Baldwin would have its own complex for practice and most games.

This would require more work by maintenance crews, but there are ways to limit that work. One suggestion is to move BJHS football games to the practice fields, where the junior varsity and freshman games take place.

Another would be to have a sprinkler system under the field, which would take away the hassle of a hose being drug out to the field.

Of course, another addition to this project would include an addition north of the BHS gym. This would include locker rooms, coaches office and an equipment room. These would make it more convenient for teams, coaches and P.E. classes.

Wellsville has created a nice stadium with a track and football field that couldn't have cost a great deal. Something similar but maybe slightly larger would work perfect for Baldwin schools.

I know all of this may sound a bit far fetched, but I think it is time for the school board to step up and make Baldwin a better district. The current discussion is to build an auditorium that is not much larger than the current one. I believe a sports complex is much more needed and some work to the current auditorium could fix most of its problems.

I know the board is trying to progress the district in the right direction. They do not have a long-term contract with Baker, which will be taking new leadership next year. The time for progress for Baldwin schools is now.

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