Haskell's playing surface
With three football teams sharing the same field each fall, Haskell Stadium's playing surface can take a beating.
"We're held hostage by the rain," said Ted Juneau, a consultant at Haskell Indian Nations University. "If there's a major rain event, during or right before a game, then obviously the field is not going to be in very good shape."
Lawrence High School athletic director Ron Commons said that a few years ago an LHS game was moved to Kansas University's Memorial Stadium because administrators determined Haskell's field was not safe to play on because of heavy rainfall and wear and tear.
"You never know what Mother Nature is going to bring to you, and last year, it was still playable at the end of the season," Commons said.
In addition to Haskell and LHS, Free State High School plays home games on the field at 23rd Street and Barker Avenue.
Haskell and school district administrators say playing on an artificial surface would be optimal. But no action is expected on that issue anytime soon, because both Haskell and the school district are evaluating their outdoor athletic facilities.
Although officials from Haskell and the district met last week to discuss this football season, participants said an artificial surface was not part of the talks. The school district pays Haskell $3,000 per game, according to a contract.
Juneau is evaluating Haskell's athletic department at the request of new university President Linda Sue Warner. He said he likely will submit a report in October that will center on the field, as well as many other issues. Juneau, a former LHS basketball coach and Central Junior High School principal, said no one would argue about the benefits of an artificial field, but money is an issue.
"With budget limitations that are out here, obviously that's a constraint," he said.
Linda Robinson, president of the Lawrence school board, said board members have not given Superintendent Randy Weseman authority to pursue working with Haskell on an artificial surface.
Weseman said he would make a presentation to board members in September about all secondary athletic facilities. He then would ask board members to provide direction, he said.
"I think this needs to be at the forefront of our facility planning right now. I just believe it's at a critical stage," Weseman said.
According to the group Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, renovation of Haskell Stadium would cost about $7.4 million. That would include new artificial turf, four new locker rooms, and improvements to restrooms and concession areas.
"For right now, we have a plan to play on, in cooperation with Haskell, and we appreciate their willingness to allow us to play on their field," Weseman said.