Baldwin school superintendent recommends district football fields be improved
The Baldwin school board agreed Tuesday the two football fields the junior high and high school sub-varsity teams use west of the Baldwin High School are in bad shape and need to be upgraded, but did not agree to allow those teams to play games on the district’s soccer field.
The board consensus was reached after Superintendent Paul Dorathy gave a report on the condition of all three fields, their use and what should be done to improve them.
Although Dorathy did provide a list of ways to improve the football fields, there was also consensus that there wasn’t enough flat, green space in the community. It was agreed scheduling district games and practices and those of the Baldwin City Recreation Commission complicated the issue and would make it difficult to take the football fields out of commission while upgrades were made.
Joanne Kite brought the issue to the board last month with a request the district open the soccer field to the district’s junior high and high school freshman and junior varsity teams. Although the varsity plays at Baker University’s Liston Stadium, the junior high and high school sub-varsity play on a field west of the high school, which Kite said lacked restrooms, adequate parking, concessions, seating and a press box. She also noted lack of any fencing made it difficult for the district to collect gate receipts.
Kite said she had approached the Kansas City Chiefs about goalposts for the soccer field and was told the NFL team would provide used goalposts at free or reduced cost to the district.
The board agreed to review the request, and Dorathy said he inspected the three fields with district activities director Gary Stevanus during the past month. He concluded that although the soccer field looks good from the sidelines, a closer on-the-field look showed wear and tear from the boys and girls soccer season that will be addressed during the summer.
Dorathy further noted that soccer fields were designed to be flat so the ball doesn’t roll out of bounds while football fields have a crown to shed water. His conclusion was that playing football on the field would cause excessive wear and tear.
Mary Joslyn, wife of BHS boys soccer coach Mark Joslyn and mother of two past Bulldog soccer standouts, made those same points when addressing the board. She added the field looked good because soccer parents help maintain it and coach Joslyn didn’t have practices on the field.
If the soccer field shows wear and tear, the football game field and practice field were in much worse shape, Dorathy said. He recommended the board consider:
• Adding a crown on the south football practice field.
• Installing irrigation systems on the two football fields, like one the soccer field already has.
• Adding fencing around the football fields and soccer field.
• Providing “raised” seating, or bleachers with the lowest seats raised from ground level to improve the view, at the football fields and soccer field.
• Paving the parking lot north of the tennis court.
Dorathy said those measures could be done “fairly” soon with revenue from the capital outlay fund. He suggested, and the board agreed, discussion should start on how those upgrades fit with the board's other capital improvement priorities.
In her April comment to the board, Kite said she would support a stadium in a future bond issue. Dorathy said a district stadium was a longtime discussion point in the community.
Although Dorathy took no stand on the matter, he noted the district rents use of Liston Stadium for all varsity football games, high school track meets and the elementary field day for $25,000 a year. The price tag on the new football stadium with artificial turf the Eudora school district built was more than $2 million and now requires annual maintenance costs, he said.
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